Another weekly decline in unemployment benefit claims in Washington and the nation.

The Employment Security Department reports another drop in UI claims this week.

During the week of June 7th through June 13th, there were 29,028 initial regular unemployment claims (down 2.3% from the prior week) and 695,532 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (a decrease of 34,061) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  ESD believes the continued decrease is due to a variety of reasons including fraud prevention measures and more people going back to work with the reopening of some industry sectors and regions over the past three weeks.

ESD breaks down the claims. As the table shows, there’s also been a decline in federal pandemic assistance claims.

Unemployment claim type

For week of

June 7-June 13

For week of

May 31-June 6

For week of

May 24-30

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims

29,028

29,173

31,224

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims

9,346

10,569

12,878

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims

7,650

9,195

10,176

Continued/ongoing weekly claims

649,508

680,116

720,681

Total claims

695,532

729,053

774,959

Nationally, claims are also declining, as reported by the Department of Labor.

In the week ending June 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,508,000, a decrease of 58,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 24,000 from 1,542,000 to 1,566,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,773,500, a decrease of 234,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 6,000 from 2,002,000 to 2,008,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 14.1 percent for the week ending June 6, unchanged from the previous week’s revised rate. The previous week’s rate was revised down by 0.3 from 14.4 to 14.1 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 6 was 20,544,000, a decrease of 62,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 323,000 from 20,929,000 to 20,606,000. The 4-week moving average was 20,814,750, a decrease of 1,092,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

While the trend may look good, Bill McBride at Calculated risk calls this week’s report “disappointing.

irst, regular initial claims were above expectations, and the previous week was revised up.

Second, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), total initial claims increased from the previous week.

Third, several states have not released PUA claims yet. This includes Florida, Georgia, Oregon and others – so the number of PUA claims is too low. However, there may also be processing delays that are impacting the numbers.

Fourth, continued claims only decreased slightly to 20,544,000 (SA) from 20,606,000 (SA) the previous week. However, continued claims are down over 4 million from a month ago, so a large number of people have probably returned to their jobs.

The Associated Press reports

The figures surprised and disappointed analysts who had expected far fewer people to seek unemployment aid as states increasingly reopen their economies and businesses recall some laid-off people back to work. The data also raised concerns that some recent layoffs may reflect permanent losses as companies restructure their businesses, rather than temporary cuts in response to government-ordered closures.

The report is “telling us that the scars from the job losses in the recession will be longer-lasting than we expected,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

Right direction, but not nearly fast enough.