Initial and Continuing Claims Decline

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Weekly initial jobless claims decreased in the week ending August 1 after two weeks of increases. Continuing claims, which lags initial jobless claims by one week, dropped by 844,000 in the week ending July 25. Although jobless claims remain at historically high levels, the decreases in initial jobless claims and continuing claims indicate that labor market is recovering gradually from the COVID-19 crisis, though the road to a full recovery may be long.

The U.S. Department of Labor released the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report for the week ending August 1. The number of initial jobless claims fell by 249,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 1,186,000, from the previous week’s revised level of 1,435,000 claims. It marks the lowest level since the crisis started in the week ending March 21. The four-week moving average decreased to 1,337,750, from a revised average of 1,368,750 in the previous week. Weekly jobless claims have been above 1 million for the past 20 weeks and the 20-week’s total reached 55.3 million.

Meanwhile, the number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (in regular state programs), known as continuing claims, decreased by 844,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 16,107,000 in the week ending July 25. The four-week moving average declined to 16,628,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 17,041,500. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate declined by 0.6 percentage point to 11.0% for the week ending July 25. The previous week’s rate was unrevised.

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 January 2004 to May 2020.

During this spring, many industries have been hit hard by the economic shutdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 and construction industry has been no exception. Compared to the same period in 2019, the number of insured unemployment for construction jumped by 325% in April 2020, surpassing 1.1 million. It was the highest level recorded in the history of this data series. In May, as economy started to reopen in phases, the number of insured unemployment for construction dropped below 1 million, indicating unemployed workers were back to work gradually. Meanwhile, the number of insured unemployment for real estate, rental and leasing industry soared by 733% in April 2020, compared to the level in April 2019.



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