U.S. experiences rise in unemployment claims for first time in four months, up 1.4 million.

The economic toll of the pandemic remains unrelenting. Nationally, the Department of Labor reports that weekly initial UI claims rose to 1.4 million last week.

In the week ending July 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,416,000, an increase of 109,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 7,000 from 1,300,000 to 1,307,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,360,250, a decrease of 16,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 1,750 from 1,375,000 to 1,376,750.

As the chart shows, the trend has been steadily declining since the peak last spring.

The Associated Press reports on concerns raised by the latest numbers.

The viral pandemic’s resurgence caused the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits to rise last week for the first time in nearly four months, evidence of the deepening economic pain the outbreak is causing.

The increase in weekly jobless claims to 1.4 million served to underscore the outsize role the unemployment insurance system is playing among the nation’s safety net programs — just when a $600 weekly federal aid payment for the jobless is set to expire at the end of this week.

Washington has not been spared. To the contrary, 

The Labor Department said Washington had the fourth-highest increases in initial claims for the previous week, ending July 11, with its 16,116 claims exceeded only by those in Florida, Georgia and California.

Continuing claims are trending down, as Calculated Risk reports, with a caution.

Continued claims decreased last week to 16,197,000 (SA) from 17,304,000 (SA) the previous week. Continued claims are down 8.7 million from the peak, suggesting a large number of people have returned to their jobs (as the employment report showed).  However, continued claims NSA increased to 17,188,772 from 16,410,059 the previous week – and the seasonal adjustment may be off this year due to the pandemic.

CR also notes,

This was the 18th 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.

The Washington Employment Security Department will report on the state’s numbers later today.