New state unemployment numbers show workers continue to file unemployment claims in daunting numbers

by nyljaouadi1
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Correction: This blog post was updated on 4/24/20 with the correct data in Figure A and Table 1. The figure and table initially had the wrong data for the percent change from the previous week. We regret the error. 

The Department of Labor released the most recent unemployment insurance (UI) claims data this morning, which shows that another 4.3 million people filed for UI benefits last week (not seasonally adjusted). More people filed for UI in the last week alone than during the worst five-week stretch of the Great Recession. In the past five weeks, more than 24 million workers have applied for UI benefits across the country.

Last week, Connecticut (102,757), Florida (505,137), and West Virginia (46,251) experienced their highest level of initial UI claims filings ever, each seeing the number of claims approximately triple over the week. Last week, Florida saw the largest percent increase in claims (9,869%) relative to the pre-virus period of any state. Florida residents also filed the second most UI claims last week, followed by Texas and Georgia.

Figure A compares UI claims filed last week with filings in the pre-virus period, showing that all states, especially many in the South, continue to struggle. Eight of the 10 states that had the highest percent change in initial UI claims relative to the pre-virus period are in the South: Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Initial unemployment insurance claims filed during the week ending April 18, by state

State Initial claims filed Percent change from the prior week Level change from the prior week Percent change from pre-virus period Level change from pre-virus period Sum of initial claims for the six weeks ending April 18
Alabama 65,431 -14.3% -11,083 3,004% 63,323 344,381
Alaska 13,027 1.6% 194 1,443% 12,183 61,539
Arizona 71,843 -26.5% -26,074 2,088% 68,560 425,548
Arkansas 24,236 -28.7% -10,225 1,538% 22,757 161,532
California 533,568 -19.4% -127,112 1,205% 492,696 3,404,910
Colorado 68,667 -35.3% -36,933 3,506% 66,763 302,470
Connecticut 102,757 201.9% 68,758 3,881% 100,176 232,089
Delaware 9,294 -28.8% -3,812 1,528% 8,723 71,940
Washington D.C. 8,591 -13.4% -1,335 1,790% 8,137 65,486
Florida 505,137 180.8% 326,251 9,869% 500,070 1,166,234
Georgia 243,677 -22.7% -72,578 4,452% 238,324 1,108,121
Hawaii 26,477 -23.4% -8,126 2,231% 25,341 173,409
Idaho 12,456 -29.7% -5,508 1,031% 11,355 110,016
Illinois 102,736 -27.1% -38,224 994% 93,345 748,542
Indiana 75,483 -36.0% -40,999 2,909% 72,975 515,046
Iowa 27,912 -38.7% -16,988 1,097% 25,579 234,131
Kansas 31,920 2.4% 723 1,879% 30,307 189,423
Kentucky 103,548 -10.6% -12,296 4,039% 101,046 502,790
Louisiana 92,039 15.4% 12,270 5,359% 90,353 444,290
Maine 11,446 -12.7% -1,719 1,375% 10,670 102,030
Maryland 46,676 -22.9% -14,409 1,591% 43,916 353,050
Massachusetts 80,345 -22.0% -22,844 1,226% 74,287 661,753
Michigan 134,119 -38.5% -85,500 2,328% 128,595 1,185,147
Minnesota 74,873 -19.7% -18,304 2,027% 71,354 507,100
Mississippi 35,843 -19.3% -8,835 4,230% 35,015 167,194
Missouri 52,678 -41.6% -42,524 1,634% 49,640 403,739
Montana 10,509 -21.7% -3,099 1,245% 9,728 83,624
Nebraska 12,340 -24.9% -4,057 2,328% 11,832 96,775
Nevada 40,909 -32.6% -19,145 1,673% 38,602 348,018
New Hampshire 19,110 -19.2% -4,859 3,287% 18,546 146,288
New Jersey 139,277 -0.9% -1,281 1,603% 131,098 827,930
New Mexico 13,338 -28.5% -5,422 1,783% 12,630 105,619
New York 204,716 -48.0% -189,517 1,011% 186,286 1,405,202
North Carolina 104,515 -24.2% -33,889 3,964% 101,943 653,604
North Dakota 9,042 -15.1% -1,437 2,055% 8,623 50,587
Ohio 108,801 -31.1% -49,487 1,390% 101,501 972,981
Oklahoma 40,297 -14.3% -7,785 2,513% 38,755 233,217
Oregon 35,101 -31.8% -17,372 784% 31,129 236,399
Pennsylvania 198,081 -17.1% -40,274 1,469% 185,460 1,504,669
Rhode Island 17,578 -22.4% -5,031 1,466% 16,455 132,985
South Carolina 73,116 -16.6% -14,785 3,660% 71,172 350,476
South Dakota 5,128 -16.7% -1,064 2,714% 4,946 28,544
Tennessee 68,968 -6.5% -4,661 3,331% 66,958 384,578
Texas 280,406 2.4% 6,504 2,062% 267,435 1,317,972
Utah 19,751 -19.8% -4,866 1,873% 18,750 126,731
Vermont 6,434 -31.7% -3,064 945% 5,819 51,810
Virginia 84,387 -20.9% -21,890 3,095% 81,746 496,197
Washington 89,105 -42.2% -60,980 1,368% 83,035 726,180
West Virginia 46,251 212.9% 31,811 3,993% 45,121 95,117
Wisconsin 55,886 -20.2% -14,117 888% 50,232 397,861
Wyoming 3,321 -24.4% -1,413 567% 2,823 27,284

Notes: Initial claims for the week ending April 18 reflect advance state claims, not seasonally adjusted. For comparisons with the “pre-virus period,” we use a four-week average of initial claims for the weeks ending February 15–March 7, 2020.

Table 1 shows the data displayed in the map as well as the change in UI claims over the last four weeks relative to the same four-week period a year ago.

Even though initial UI claims filings have declined compared with last week, initial UI claims across every state remain remarkably high. Long wait times and burdensome application processes are frustrating workers across the country. A recent report by Michele Evermore of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) outlines how some states—including Florida—have deliberately built their UI systems to discourage applicants and fail workers. This underscores the importance of investing in government services that we may all need at some point in our lives when we are most in need of support.

Policymakers must encourage states to extend stay-at-home orders until the new coronavirus case curve has flattened nationally, and they must take action to protect worker safety. At the same time, they must also address gaps in the existing coronavirus relief and recovery measures, including insufficient aid to state and local governments. The United States could also follow the lead of other countries, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, by undertaking other transformative measures to guarantee paychecks to all workers.

Initial unemployment insurance claims filed during the week ending April 18, by state

State Initial claims filed Percent change from the prior week Level change from the prior week Percent change from pre-virus period Level change from pre-virus period Sum of initial claims for the six weeks ending April 18 Level change from same six-week period one year ago Percent change from same six-week period one year ago
Alabama 65,431 -14.3% -11,083 3,004% 63,323 344,381 330,555 2,491%
Alaska 13,027 1.6% 194 1,443% 12,183 61,539 56,102 1,132%
Arizona 71,843 -26.5% -26,074 2,088% 68,560 425,548 398,811 1,592%
Arkansas 24,236 -28.7% -10,225 1,538% 22,757 161,532 151,494 1,609%
California 533,568 -19.4% -127,112 1,205% 492,696 3,404,910 3,165,866 1,424%
Colorado 68,667 -35.3% -36,933 3,506% 66,763 302,470 292,002 2,889%
Connecticut 102,757 201.9% 68,758 3,881% 100,176 232,089 211,553 1,130%
Delaware 9,294 -28.8% -3,812 1,528% 8,723 71,940 69,290 2,715%
District of Columbia 8,591 -13.4% -1,335 1,790% 8,137 65,486 63,022 2,658%
Florida 505,137 180.8% 326,251 9,869% 500,070 1,166,234 1,131,118 3,321%
Georgia 243,677 -22.7% -72,578 4,452% 238,324 1,108,121 1,080,836 4,061%
Hawaii 26,477 -23.4% -8,126 2,231% 25,341 173,409 166,548 2,527%
Idaho 12,456 -29.7% -5,508 1,031% 11,355 110,016 103,896 1,798%
Illinois 102,736 -27.1% -38,224 994% 93,345 748,542 698,647 1,500%
Indiana 75,483 -36.0% -40,999 2,909% 72,975 515,046 500,729 3,597%
Iowa 27,912 -38.7% -16,988 1,097% 25,579 234,131 222,190 1,961%
Kansas 31,920 2.4% 723 1,879% 30,307 189,423 181,192 2,301%
Kentucky 103,548 -10.6% -12,296 4,039% 101,046 502,790 489,695 3,840%
Louisiana 92,039 15.4% 12,270 5,359% 90,353 444,290 434,208 4,407%
Maine 11,446 -12.7% -1,719 1,375% 10,670 102,030 98,036 2,555%
Maryland 46,676 -22.9% -14,409 1,591% 43,916 353,050 336,619 2,149%
Massachusetts 80,345 -22.0% -22,844 1,226% 74,287 661,753 629,350 2,042%
Michigan 134,119 -38.5% -85,500 2,328% 128,595 1,185,147 1,153,264 3,717%
Minnesota 74,873 -19.7% -18,304 2,027% 71,354 507,100 488,427 2,716%
Mississippi 35,843 -19.3% -8,835 4,230% 35,015 167,194 161,359 2,865%
Missouri 52,678 -41.6% -42,524 1,634% 49,640 403,739 386,139 2,294%
Montana 10,509 -21.7% -3,099 1,245% 9,728 83,624 79,099 1,848%
Nebraska 12,340 -24.9% -4,057 2,328% 11,832 96,775 92,681 2,364%
Nevada 40,909 -32.6% -19,145 1,673% 38,602 348,018 334,738 2,621%
New Hampshire 19,110 -19.2% -4,859 3,287% 18,546 146,288 143,369 5,012%
New Jersey 139,277 -0.9% -1,281 1,603% 131,098 827,930 779,613 1,714%
New Mexico 13,338 -28.5% -5,422 1,783% 12,630 105,619 100,898 2,237%
New York 204,716 -48.0% -189,517 1,011% 186,286 1,405,202 1,329,812 1,864%
North Carolina 104,515 -24.2% -33,889 3,964% 101,943 653,604 636,520 3,826%
North Dakota 9,042 -15.1% -1,437 2,055% 8,623 50,587 49,061 3,315%
Ohio 108,801 -31.1% -49,487 1,390% 101,501 972,981 937,032 2,707%
Oklahoma 40,297 -14.3% -7,785 2,513% 38,755 233,217 221,385 1,971%
Oregon 35,101 -31.8% -17,372 784% 31,129 236,399 211,831 962%
Pennsylvania 198,081 -17.1% -40,274 1,469% 185,460 1,504,669 1,434,094 2,132%
Rhode Island 17,578 -22.4% -5,031 1,466% 16,455 132,985 125,665 1,817%
South Carolina 73,116 -16.6% -14,785 3,660% 71,172 350,476 338,840 3,012%
South Dakota 5,128 -16.7% -1,064 2,714% 4,946 28,544 27,678 3,296%
Tennessee 68,968 -6.5% -4,661 3,331% 66,958 384,578 369,035 2,474%
Texas 280,406 2.4% 6,504 2,062% 267,435 1,317,972 1,241,283 1,719%
Utah 19,751 -19.8% -4,866 1,873% 18,750 126,731 120,596 2,066%
Vermont 6,434 -31.7% -3,064 945% 5,819 51,810 48,112 1,401%
Virginia 84,387 -20.9% -21,890 3,095% 81,746 496,197 483,126 3,796%
Washington 89,105 -42.2% -60,980 1,368% 83,035 726,180 690,532 2,037%
West Virginia 46,251 212.9% 31,811 3,993% 45,121 95,117 90,453 2,039%
Wisconsin 55,886 -20.2% -14,117 888% 50,232 397,861 365,801 1,241%
Wyoming 3,321 -24.4% -1,413 567% 2,823 27,284 25,118 1,260%

Notes: Initial claims for the week ending April 18 reflect advance state claims, not seasonally adjusted. For comparisons to the “pre-virus period,” we use a four-week average of initial claims for the weeks ending February 15–March 7, 2020.





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