During Thanksgiving week, weekly initial jobless claims declined to the lowest level since the end of March. Continuing claims, which lag initial jobless claims by one week, continued a downward trend for the week ending November 21. The labor market has been recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic gradually for the past eight months.
However, it is worth noting that a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on November 30 stated that the U.S. Department of Labor issued flawed data on weekly jobless claims and some of jobless workers were underpaid throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, jobless workers who submitted multiple claims were counted more than once in the Department of Labor’s estimate.
According to the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report released by the U.S. Department of Labor today, the number of initial jobless claims declined by 75,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 712,000 for the week ending November 28. This week’s initial jobless claims were 90% lower than the peak of 7 million and 152% higher than the pre-pandemic level of 0.3 million in the week ending March 14. The 37-week’s total jobless claims reached 69.7 million. The four-week moving average decreased to 739,500, from a revised average of 750,750 in the previous week.
In addition to the decline in initial jobless claims, the number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (in regular state programs), known as continuing claims, decreased by 569,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 5,520,000 in the week ending November 21. It is the twelfth consecutive decline in continuing claims and marks the lowest level after continuing claims hit 24.9 million in the early of May. The four-week moving average declined to 6,194,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 6,619,750. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage point to 3.8% for the week ending November 21. The previous week’s rate was revised up by 0.1 percentage point. However, these rates need to be understood in the context of a lower labor force participation rate.
On a not seasonally adjusted basis, states’ regular unemployment insurance claims decreased by 147,538 to 5,890,222 in the week ending November 14. Meanwhile, the number of persons claiming unemployment insurance benefits in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program declined by 339,068, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program increased by 59,732.
The U.S. Department of Labor also released the advanced number of actual initial claims under state programs without seasonal adjustments. The unadjusted number of advanced initial claims totaled 713,824 in the week ending November 28, a decrease of 122,453 from the previous week.
The chart above presents the top 10 states ranked by the number of advanced initial claims for the week ending November 28. California, Illinois and New York had the most advanced initial claims. California led the way with 129,664 initial claims, followed by Illinois with 74,139 initial claims and New York with 46,086 initial claims. District of Columbia, Wyoming and South Dakota had the least advanced initial claims.
For the week ending November 28, about 40 states reported declines in advanced initial claims. Illinois, Oregon and Indiana had the largest increases in advanced initial claims. Illinois reported an increase of 8,543 advanced initial claims, Oregon increased by 5,483 and Indiana increased by 4,231. California (-38,522), Texas (-15,726), and Michigan (-12,448) had the largest decreases in advanced initial claims.