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Thursday, September 03, 2020

Comments on Weekly Unemployment Claims

by Calculated Risk on 9/03/2020 10:26:00 AM

Earlier: Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims increase to 833,352 NSA

Note: The DOL changed their seasonal adjustment method, so to compare to the previous week, we need to use the NSA data.  See Technical Note on Weekly Unemployment Claims

The Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA) claims increased to 833,352 from 825,761 the previous week. These are directly comparable since the Seasonal Adjustment Factor was identical for both weeks.

This was the 24th consecutive week with extraordinarily high initial claims.

More importantly, continued claims are still extremely high (second graph below).

The following graph shows regular initial unemployment claims (blue) and PUA claims (red) since early February (all NSA).

Click on graph for larger image.

Initial claims, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are still close to 1.6 million per week.

The worst week during the great recession was 665,000 (SA). So total initial weekly claims are still more than 900 thousand higher than the worst week of the great recession!

We are probably seeing some layoffs related to the higher level of COVID cases and also from the end of some Payroll Protection Programs (PPP).

The second graph shows all person receiving unemployment insurance benefits on all programs. Note that this data is released with a two week lag, and is not seasonally adjusted.

There are typically around 2 million people receiving benefits from the various programs (mostly regular unemployment insurance).

As of the release this morning, there were still 29 million people receiving benefits as of August 15th.

This was a very disappointing weekly report. Initial claims increased (NSA), there was a sharp increase in PUA initial claims (might be a data dump), and the total continued claims increased - and remains at a very high level.