More than a quarter of the workforce in 10 states has filed for unemployment

by nyljaouadi1
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The Department of Labor (DOL) released the most recent unemployment insurance (UI) claims data this morning, showing that another 2.2 million people filed for regular UI benefits last week (not seasonally adjusted) and 1.2 million for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the new program for workers who aren’t eligible for regular UI, such as gig workers.

While most states saw a decline in UI claims filed relative to the prior week, 12 states saw increases in UI claims. Washington saw the largest percent increase in claims (31.0%) compared with the prior week, followed by California (15.7%), New York (13.6%), and North Dakota (10.1%).

A note about the data: Unless otherwise noted, the numbers in this blog post are the ones reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, which they receive from the state agencies that administer UI. While DOL is asking states to report regular UI claims and PUA claims separately, many states are also including some or all PUA claimants in their reported regular UI claims. As state agencies work to get these new programs up and running, there will likely continue to be some misreporting. Since the number of UI claims is one of the most up-to-date measures of labor market weakness and access to benefits, we will still be analyzing it each week as reported by DOL, but we ask that you keep these caveats in mind when interpreting the data.

Figure A and Table 1 below compare regular UI claims filed last week with the prior week and the pre-virus period, in both level and percent terms. It also shows the cumulative number of unemployment claims since March 7 and that number as a share of each state’s labor force. In 10 states, more than a quarter of the workforce filed an initial claim during the past 10 weeks: Georgia (39.2%), Kentucky (38.0%), Hawaii (35.0%), Washington (30.9%), Louisiana (29.9%), Rhode Island (29.7%), Nevada (29.6%), Michigan (29.2%), Pennsylvania (28.4%), and Alaska (27.9%).

New and cumulative jobless claims by state: Unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed during the week ending May 16, change in claims, and total claims as share of state labor force

State Initial claims filed % change from the prior week Level change from the prior week % change from pre-virus period Level change from pre-virus period Sum of initial claims for the ten weeks ending May 16 Sum of initial claims as a share of labor force
Alabama 24,528 -8.0% -2,138 1,064% 22,420 499,526 22.3%
Alaska 8,117 4.0% 310 861% 7,273 96,494 27.9%
Arizona 32,295 2.3% 725 884% 29,012 585,017 16.2%
Arkansas 10,662 -18.9% -2,490 621% 9,183 216,465 15.8%
California 246,115 15.7% 33,448 502% 205,243 4,505,292 23.1%
Colorado 17,958 -21.0% -4,774 843% 16,054 410,182 12.9%
Connecticut 26,013 -13.4% -4,033 908% 23,432 357,327 18.5%
Delaware 5,437 4.6% 240 852% 4,866 96,818 19.8%
Washington D.C. 5,079 -12.2% -703 1,017% 4,625 93,168 22.5%
Florida 223,927 0.4% 845 4,319% 218,860 2,221,206 21.2%
Georgia 176,548 -27.3% -66,224 3,198% 171,195 2,022,358 39.2%
Hawaii 11,038 -10.2% -1,259 872% 9,902 234,352 35.0%
Idaho 5,475 -5.5% -320 397% 4,374 137,608 15.4%
Illinois 72,816 0.2% 145 675% 63,425 1,050,101 16.4%
Indiana 30,311 2.2% 643 1,108% 27,803 673,089 19.8%
Iowa 13,040 -17.6% -2,780 459% 10,707 313,452 17.9%
Kansas 11,779 -3.7% -455 630% 10,166 253,878 17.0%
Kentucky 47,036 -32.2% -22,336 1,780% 44,534 792,856 38.0%
Louisiana 28,843 -28.1% -11,282 1,611% 27,157 630,340 29.9%
Maine 846 -91.9% -9,540 9% 70 137,036 19.7%
Maryland 34,304 -24.6% -11,181 1,143% 31,544 534,017 16.3%
Massachusetts 38,328 -14.7% -6,587 533% 32,270 872,238 22.7%
Michigan 54,460 -1.3% -706 886% 48,936 1,444,176 29.2%
Minnesota 31,539 -16.3% -6,130 796% 28,020 666,395 21.3%
Mississippi 23,697 0.3% 79 2,763% 22,869 270,160 21.2%
Missouri 26,029 -16.4% -5,116 757% 22,991 568,739 18.3%
Montana 3,384 -10.0% -378 333% 2,603 102,418 19.1%
Nebraska 5,923 -6.9% -439 1,065% 5,415 123,707 11.9%
Nevada 20,401 -5.7% -1,234 784% 18,094 461,145 29.6%
New Hampshire 8,333 -16.8% -1,683 1,377% 7,769 192,113 24.6%
New Jersey 41,323 -40.7% -28,366 405% 33,144 1,099,234 24.1%
New Mexico 7,948 -0.9% -76 1,022% 7,240 147,359 15.3%
New York 226,521 13.6% 27,102 1,129% 208,091 2,245,665 23.5%
North Carolina 45,974 -19.8% -11,380 1,687% 43,402 941,829 18.4%
North Dakota 3,031 10.1% 278 623% 2,612 66,689 16.5%
Ohio 46,594 -10.8% -5,661 538% 39,294 1,226,916 21.0%
Oklahoma 23,880 -38.9% -15,199 1,448% 22,338 442,561 24.0%
Oregon 22,281 -34.3% -11,655 461% 18,309 390,036 18.5%
Pennsylvania 64,078 -13.0% -9,610 408% 51,457 1,864,776 28.4%
Rhode Island 3,852 -38.3% -2,393 243% 2,729 165,854 29.7%
South Carolina 29,446 -11.3% -3,745 1,414% 27,502 527,224 22.0%
South Dakota 3,806 -27.8% -1,463 1,988% 3,624 47,083 10.1%
Tennessee 28,692 1.1% 315 1,327% 26,682 520,775 15.5%
Texas 134,381 -5.1% -7,172 936% 121,410 2,091,925 14.7%
Utah 6,275 -11.3% -801 527% 5,274 160,812 9.9%
Vermont 2,098 -28.0% -815 241% 1,483 65,813 19.3%
Virginia 45,788 -12.2% -6,351 1,633% 43,147 726,243 16.3%
Washington 145,228 31.0% 34,397 2,292% 139,158 1,223,960 30.9%
West Virginia 4,853 -19.7% -1,192 329% 3,723 149,060 18.5%
Wisconsin 31,314 -19.1% -7,396 454% 25,660 555,763 17.9%
Wyoming 1,911 -42.0% -1,386 284% 1,413 38,843 13.2%

All states continue to see astonishingly high numbers of claims relative to the pre-virus period, but the rise in claims has been particularly pronounced in the South. Last week, Florida and Georgia saw the largest percent increase in claims (4,319% and 3,198%, respectively) compared with the pre-virus period. Eight of the 10 states that had the highest percent change in initial regular UI claims relative to the pre-virus period are in the South: Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

Table 2 below displays the reported number of people who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)—the new federal program that extends unemployment compensation to workers who are not eligible for regular UI but are out of work due to the pandemic, such as gig workers and people who left their jobs to care for a child. The U.S. DOL’s release on 5/21/2020 reported that 1,184,792 initial PUA claims were filed in Massachusetts last week, but the correct number is 115,952. The total number of initial PUA claims in the U.S. last week has also been corrected to 1.2 million to reflect this change.

In the last three weeks, about three million workers in 36 states have filed for PUA, with the most PUA claims in California (547,188), Michigan (388,749), New York (269,426), Massachusetts (255,242), and North Carolina (184,304).

To mitigate the economic harm to workers, the next federal relief and recovery package should extend the across-the-board $600 increase in weekly unemployment benefits well past its expiration at the end of July. The package should also include substantial aid to state and local governments (without which, a prolonged depression is inevitable), worker protections, investments in our democracy, and resources for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, which is necessary to reopen the economy.

New and cumulative jobless claims by state: Unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed during the week ending May 16, change in claims, and total claims as share of state labor force

State Initial claims filed % change from the prior week Level change from the prior week % change from pre-virus period Level change from pre-virus period Sum of initial claims for the ten weeks ending May 16 Sum of initial claims as a  share of labor force
Alabama 24,528 -8.0% -2,138 1,064% 22,420 499,526 22.3%
Alaska 8,117 4.0% 310 861% 7,273 96,494 27.9%
Arizona 32,295 2.3% 725 884% 29,012 585,017 16.2%
Arkansas 10,662 -18.9% -2,490 621% 9,183 216,465 15.8%
California 246,115 15.7% 33,448 502% 205,243 4,505,292 23.1%
Colorado 17,958 -21.0% -4,774 843% 16,054 410,182 12.9%
Connecticut 26,013 -13.4% -4,033 908% 23,432 357,327 18.5%
Delaware 5,437 4.6% 240 852% 4,866 96,818 19.8%
District of Columbia 5,079 -12.2% -703 1,017% 4,625 93,168 22.5%
Florida 223,927 0.4% 845 4,319% 218,860 2,221,206 21.2%
Georgia 176,548 -27.3% -66,224 3,198% 171,195 2,022,358 39.2%
Hawaii 11,038 -10.2% -1,259 872% 9,902 234,352 35.0%
Idaho 5,475 -5.5% -320 397% 4,374 137,608 15.4%
Illinois 72,816 0.2% 145 675% 63,425 1,050,101 16.4%
Indiana 30,311 2.2% 643 1,108% 27,803 673,089 19.8%
Iowa 13,040 -17.6% -2,780 459% 10,707 313,452 17.9%
Kansas 11,779 -3.7% -455 630% 10,166 253,878 17.0%
Kentucky 47,036 -32.2% -22,336 1,780% 44,534 792,856 38.0%
Louisiana 28,843 -28.1% -11,282 1,611% 27,157 630,340 29.9%
Maine 846 -91.9% -9,540 9% 70 137,036 19.7%
Maryland 34,304 -24.6% -11,181 1,143% 31,544 534,017 16.3%
Massachusetts 38,328 -14.7% -6,587 533% 32,270 872,238 22.7%
Michigan 54,460 -1.3% -706 886% 48,936 1,444,176 29.2%
Minnesota 31,539 -16.3% -6,130 796% 28,020 666,395 21.3%
Mississippi 23,697 0.3% 79 2,763% 22,869 270,160 21.2%
Missouri 26,029 -16.4% -5,116 757% 22,991 568,739 18.3%
Montana 3,384 -10.0% -378 333% 2,603 102,418 19.1%
Nebraska 5,923 -6.9% -439 1,065% 5,415 123,707 11.9%
Nevada 20,401 -5.7% -1,234 784% 18,094 461,145 29.6%
New Hampshire 8,333 -16.8% -1,683 1,377% 7,769 192,113 24.6%
New Jersey 41,323 -40.7% -28,366 405% 33,144 1,099,234 24.1%
New Mexico 7,948 -0.9% -76 1,022% 7,240 147,359 15.3%
New York 226,521 13.6% 27,102 1,129% 208,091 2,245,665 23.5%
North Carolina 45,974 -19.8% -11,380 1,687% 43,402 941,829 18.4%
North Dakota 3,031 10.1% 278 623% 2,612 66,689 16.5%
Ohio 46,594 -10.8% -5,661 538% 39,294 1,226,916 21.0%
Oklahoma 23,880 -38.9% -15,199 1,448% 22,338 442,561 24.0%
Oregon 22,281 -34.3% -11,655 461% 18,309 390,036 18.5%
Pennsylvania 64,078 -13.0% -9,610 408% 51,457 1,864,776 28.4%
Rhode Island 3,852 -38.3% -2,393 243% 2,729 165,854 29.7%
South Carolina 29,446 -11.3% -3,745 1,414% 27,502 527,224 22.0%
South Dakota 3,806 -27.8% -1,463 1,988% 3,624 47,083 10.1%
Tennessee 28,692 1.1% 315 1,327% 26,682 520,775 15.5%
Texas 134,381 -5.1% -7,172 936% 121,410 2,091,925 14.7%
Utah 6,275 -11.3% -801 527% 5,274 160,812 9.9%
Vermont 2,098 -28.0% -815 241% 1,483 65,813 19.3%
Virginia 45,788 -12.2% -6,351 1,633% 43,147 726,243 16.3%
Washington 145,228 31.0% 34,397 2,292% 139,158 1,223,960 30.9%
West Virginia 4,853 -19.7% -1,192 329% 3,723 149,060 18.5%
Wisconsin 31,314 -19.1% -7,396 454% 25,660 555,763 17.9%
Wyoming 1,911 -42.0% -1,386 284% 1,413 38,843 13.2%

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims by state: PUA initial claims filed during the weeks ending May 2–May 16

State Week ending May 2 Week ending May 9 Week ending May 16 Three–week sum
Alabama 0 0 0 0
Alaska 0 0 0 0
Arizona 0 0 0 0
Arkansas 0 0 1,498 1,498
California 297,738 136,659 112,791 547,188
Colorado 13,149 9,125 7,633 29,907
Connecticut 0 11,750 7,450 19,200
Delaware 0 0 0 0
District of Columbia 0 0 0 0
Florida 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0
Hawaii 0 0 0 0
Idaho 0 0 5,193 5,193
Illinois 0 0 74,515 74,515
Indiana 0 68,834 0 68,834
Iowa 4,509 3,910 4,552 12,971
Kansas 0 0 0 0
Kentucky 0 0 0 0
Louisiana 20,245 17,556 3,396 41,197
Maine 10,498 11,488 7,043 29,029
Maryland 44,280 18,982 15,448 78,710
Massachusetts 68,826 70,464 115,952 255,242
Michigan 86,009 138,051 164,689 388,749
Minnesota 1,015 7,680 3,036 11,731
Mississippi 0 0 0 0
Missouri 17,784 7,082 7,787 32,653
Montana 3,524 2,163 2,466 8,153
Nebraska 1,633 0 1,700 3,333
Nevada 0 0 0 0
New Hampshire 0 0 7,666 7,666
New Jersey 76,100 51,241 34,000 161,341
New Mexico 17,850 4,714 3,256 25,820
New York 38,700 53,042 177,684 269,426
North Carolina 89,951 52,351 42,002 184,304
North Dakota 5,827 526 638 6,991
Ohio 0 0 134,468 134,468
Oklahoma 2,124 0 3,016 5,140
Oregon 0 0 0 0
Pennsylvania 43,889 51,591 60,750 156,230
Rhode Island 5,815 4,954 3,768 14,537
South Carolina 0 0 19,706 19,706
South Dakota 99 693 901 1,693
Tennessee 10,617 5,741 3,615 19,973
Texas 56,548 47,088 43,997 147,633
Utah 0 0 2,600 2,600
Vermont 0 0 0 0
Virginia 0 0 13,906 13,906
Washington 66,652 48,665 61,471 176,788
West Virginia 0 0 0 0
Wisconsin 18,652 11,194 8,591 38,437
Wyoming 572 1,709 897 3,178
U.S. total 1,002,606 837,253 1,158,081 2,997,940





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