National unemployment claims unchanged last week: 884,000 Americans filed for benefits.

Jobless claims remain high. The Department of Labor reports this morning that 884,000 initial claims were filed.

In the week ending September 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 884,000, unchanged from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 3,000 from 881,000 to 884,000. The 4- week moving average was 970,750, a decrease of 21,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 750 from 991,750 to 992,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 9.2 percent for the week ending August 29, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

The DOL graph shows a plateau in recent weeks.

Calculated Risk comments,

This was the 25th consecutive week with extraordinarily high initial claims.

More importantly, continued claims are still extremely high…

Initial claims, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are rising, and are close to 1.7 million per week.

The worst week during the great recession was 665,000 (SA). So total initial weekly claims are still more than 1 million higher than the worst week of the great recession!

The Associated Press reports,

Hiring has slowed since June, and a rising number of laid-off workers say they regard their job loss as permanent. The number of people who are continuing to receive state unemployment benefits rose last week to 13.4 million, evidence that employers aren’t hiring enough to offset layoffs. Job postings have leveled off in the past month, according to the employment website Indeed.

“The claims data were disappointing,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “It is especially concerning that the pace of layoffs has not slowed more materially even though the economy has reopened more fully and more and more businesses have come back online.”

Hiring will likely remain restrained as long as Americans are unable or reluctant to resume their normal habits of shopping, traveling, dining out and engaging in other commerce. The rate of reported infections has dropped over the past several weeks but remains well above where it was during the spring. Most analysts say the economy won’t likely be able to sustain a recovery until a vaccine is widely available.

As we reported earlier this week, persistently high unemployment in Washington is depleting the UI trust fund. Employers face the prospects of steep increases in UI taxes next year. There are various actions lawmakers can take to minimize the tax increases, some of which are described at the link. Without such action, the increase in UI taxes will discourage hiring, jeopardizing the economic recovery.