Slight dip, to 840,000, in national UI claims filed last week. Still plateaued at a high.

Another Thursday, another week of unemployment claims filings showing the national economy remains hamstrung by the pandemic. The Department of Labor reports,

In the week ending October 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 840,000, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 12,000 from 837,000 to 849,000. The 4-week moving average was 857,000, a decrease of 13,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 3,000 from 867,250 to 870,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 7.5 percent for the week ending September 26, a decrease of 0.7 percentage point from the previous week’s revised rate. The previous week’s rate was revised up by 0.1 from 8.1 to 8.2 percent.

And, again this week, the California numbers are a plug.

In response to recommendations resulting from an internal review of state operations, the state of California has announced a two week pause in its processing of initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits. The state will use this time to reduce its claims processing backlog and implement fraud prevention technology. Recognizing that the pause will likely result in significant week to week swings in initial claims for California and the nation unrelated to any changes in economic conditions, California’s initial claims published in the UI Claims News Release will reflect the level reported during the last week prior to the pause. Upon completion of the pause and the post-pause processing, the state will submit revised reports to reflect claims in the week during which they were filed.

The chart shows claims filings at a plateau well above pre-pandemic levels.

Calculated Risk comments,

At the worst of the Great Recession, continued claims peaked at 6.635 million, but then steadily declined.

Continued claims decreased to 10,976,000 (SA) from 11,979,000 (SA) last week and will likely stay at a high level until the crisis abates.

The Associated Press reports,

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department said the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped 1 million to 11 million. The decline suggests that many of the unemployed are being recalled to their old jobs. But it also reflects the fact that some have used up the 26 weeks of their regular state benefits and have transitioned to extended benefit programs that last an additional three months.

In addition, the government said 464,000 people applied for jobless aid last week under a separate program that has made the self-employed, contractors and gig workers eligible for unemployment benefits for the first time. That was about 45,000 lower than in the previous week. These figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal trends, so the government reports them separately from the traditional jobless claims.

About 11.4 million people are receiving aid under that program, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. All told, 25.5 million people were receiving some form of unemployment aid in the week that ended Sept. 19, the latest period for which data is available. Yet many economists say they are dubious about the PUA data, which has likely been inflated by miscounts and outright fraud…

Across the country, hiring has slowed just as federal rescue aid has run out, hampering an economy still climbing out of the deep hole created by the pandemic. Employers added just 661,000 jobs in September, less than half of August’s gain and the third straight monthly decline.

A slow recovery. Too slow.