Jobless Claims Jump to 965,000


During the week ending January 9, weekly initial jobless claims soared to 965,000, the highest level since mid-August 2020. Continuing claims, which lag initial jobless claims by one week, rose by 199,000 in the week ending January 2. The labor market is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as many states tighten business restrictions amid the resurgence of the COVID-19 cases. Some of the gain in the most recent data may reflect holiday-related reporting lags and additional unemployment policy assistance.

According to the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report released by the U.S. Department of Labor today, the number of initial jobless claims jumped by 181,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 965,000 for the week ending January 9. It marks the highest level since the week ending August 22. During the week ending January 9, jobless claims were 86% lower than the peak of 7 million and almost five times higher than the pre-pandemic average of 0.2 million. The 43-week’s total jobless claims reached 74.8 million. The four-week moving average rose to 834,250, from a revised average of 816,000 in the previous week.

Meanwhile, the number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (in regular state programs), known as continuing claims, increased by 199,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 5,271,000 in the week ending January 2. The four-week moving average declined to 5,215,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 5,274,750. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate rose to 3.7% for the week ending January 2, an increase of 0.2 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, states’ regular unemployment insurance claims increased by 141,512 to 5,347,353 in the week ending December 26. Meanwhile, the number of persons claiming unemployment insurance benefits in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program declined by 940,499, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program decreased by 325,152.

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 1,151,015 in the week ending January 9, an increase of 231,335 from the previous week.

The chart above presents the top 10 states ranked by the number of advanced initial claims for the week ending January 9. California, Illinois and Florida had the most advanced initial claims. California led the way with 181,576 initial claims, followed by Illinois with 96,667 initial claims and Florida with 75,444 initial claims. South Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont had the least advanced initial claims.

For the week ending January 9, Illinois, Florida and Kansas had the largest increases in advanced initial claims. Illinois reported an increase of 51,280 advanced initial claims, Florida increased by 50,747 and Kansas increased by 22,836. About one third states reported declines in advanced initial claims. Colorado (-9,287), Michigan (-6,903), and Kentucky (-5,722) had the largest decreases in advanced initial claims.

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