Jobless Claims Soar Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak


The U.S. Department of Labor released Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report this morning. Surprising but expected, the weekly initial claims on unemployment insurance surged in the week ending March 21 due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

In the week ending March 21, the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits, known as jobless claims, soared to a seasonally adjusted level of 3.28 million, from an upwardly revised 282,000 in the prior week. It marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims on record. Historically, the two largest seasonally adjusted numbers of weekly new unemployment insurance claims were 695,000 in October 1982 and 661,000 in March 2009, respectively. The four-week moving average was 998,250, an increase of 765,750 from the previous week’ revised average.

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. Businesses across the country shut down to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. As a result, millions of Americans were laid off or furloughed in the past a couple of weeks. This was unprecedented based on the recorded data since 1967.

The U.S. Department of Labor also released the monthly report providing information about the characteristics of Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants by industry. The chart below presents the changes of insured unemployment for construction and real estate, rental and leasing industries from December 2003 to January 2020. The January data hasn’t reflected the impact of the virus shocks starting in March. As the latest weekly initial claims soared over 3 million, the number of insured unemployment is expected to jump coordinately in March.

Going forward, we will track the changes of insured unemployment for construction and real estate, by state and for the Nation.


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