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Falling Jobless Claims Stall At Over a Million

July 16, 2020
The rate of new claims, falling for 15 weeks, has begun to stall at roughly 1,300,000 people per week.

In the first week of April, 15 unprecedented weeks ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment claims for the week of March 26 had skyrocketed to 6.6 million initial claims in one week. Today, July 16, the BLS reported that the figure has since fallen to 1,300,000 for the week ending July 11, a decrease of about 10,000 claims from the week previous. The insured unemployment rate was 11.9% for the week ending July 4, a fall of 0.3 points from the revised rate of the week before.

This is now the seventeenth week that unemployment claims have been higher than 1 million. The previous weekly record for claims, set during the Savings & Loans crisis, was 695,000.

The downturn, officially a recession per the National Bureau of Economic Research, is due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine orders taken to prevent its spread. On a state-by-state level, the Bureau’s report revealed that advance unemployment claims are rising in states where COVID-19 infections are rising.

The number of people collecting jobless benefits on a continual basis dropped to 17.3 million, down 400,000 from the week before, showing that companies are still continuing to rehire workers even as others plan layoffs. The Payroll Protection Program, set to expire August 8 after Congress extended it a second time, has loaned more than $500 million to businesses to help them weather the downturn while keeping employees on the payroll. According to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, almost 25% of respondents say they will lay off employees once they run out of those loans.

In Florida, claims doubled to 129,000, Georgian claims rose by 31,176 to 136,336, and Arizona saw claims rise by almost 5,000. California, which is also experiencing a resurgence of the virus, saw advance claims increase by 22,941 to 287,732.

One notable outlier to that trend is Texas, which the AP reports is seeing spiking infections, advance unemployment claims fell by 11,509 to 105,590 for the week of July 11. Unadjusted initial claims in Texas for the week of July 4 rose by 20,506. Texas, Wisconsin, and Iowa all reported higher rates of layoffs in manufacturing and other industries as part of their comments to the Bureau.

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