The Washington Employment Security Department reports a decline in regular initial unemployment claims last week. Claims for the federal benefits programs, however, increased. Overall, claims continue to come in at very high levels.
During the week of June 28 through July 4, there were 28,393 initial regular unemployment claims (down 11.0% from the prior week) and 736,151 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 5.7% from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).
- Initial regular claims applications remain at unprecedented elevated levels and are at 416 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims as well as continued/ongoing claims all increased over the previous week.
This ESD table shows recent claims history.
Nationally, UI claims also fell, according to the Department of Labor.
In the week ending July 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,314,000, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 14,000 from 1,427,000 to 1,413,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,437,250, a decrease of 63,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 3,500 from 1,503,750 to 1,500,250.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 12.4 percent for the week ending June 27, a decrease of 0.5 percentage point from the previous week’s revised rate. The previous week’s rate was revised down by 0.3 from 13.2 to 12.9 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending June 27 was 18,062,000, a decrease of 698,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 530,000 from 19,290,000 to 18,760,000. The 4-week moving average was 19,085,500, a decrease of 636,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 132,500 from 19,854,000 to 19,721,500.
The DOL chart below shows the declining trend.
Calculated Risk comments,
This was the 16th consecutive week with extraordinarily high initial claims.
It is possible that we are starting to see some layoffs associated with the end of some early Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) participants.
We should start seeing layoffs associated with the rising COVID cases and hospitalization in some states (like Arizona, California, Florida and Texas). With bar and restaurant closings in some areas, we will probably see more initial claims in those states this week, and that will show up in the report next week.
Note that these states don’t have to lockdown to see a decline in economic activity. As Merrill Lynch economists noted: “Most of the slowdown occurred due to voluntary social distancing rather than lockdown policies.”
The drop in claims is welcome, but the stubbornly high numbers shows that we’re a long way from recovery. The Associated Press writes,
More than 1.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a historically high pace that shows that many employers are still laying people off in the face of a resurgent coronavirus.
The persistently elevated level of layoffs are occurring as a spike in virus cases has forced six states to reverse their move to reopen businesses. Those six — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Texas — make up one-third of the U.S. economy. Fifteen other states have suspended their re-openings. Collectively, the pullback has stalled a tentative recovery in the job market and is likely triggering additional layoffs.
Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that the number of applications for unemployment aid fell from 1.4 million in the previous week. The figure has now topped 1 million for 16 straight weeks. Before the pandemic, the record high for weekly unemployment applications was fewer than 700,000.