Updated state unemployment numbers: Large shares of the labor force have filed for unemployment in every state

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The Department of Labor released the most recent unemployment insurance (UI) claims data yesterday, showing that another 2.8 million people filed for unemployment last week (not seasonally adjusted). In the past seven weeks, more than 30 million workers applied for UI benefits across the country, or nearly one in five workers.

Despite most states seeing a decline in UI claims filed relative to last week, six states saw increases in UI claims. Maine saw the largest percent increase in claims (111.1%) compared with the prior week, followed by Maryland (72.1%), New Mexico (38.9%), Oklahoma (30.0%), New Jersey (21.6%), and Connecticut (9.5%).

After California, Texas residents filed the second most UI claims last week, followed by Georgia. This comes after several states have allowed restaurants and similar businesses to reopen, including many in the South and Midwest, indicating that state policymakers are risking a greater outbreak with very little of the economic benefits they had expected.

Figure A and Table 1 below compare 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 three states, almost a third of the workforce filed an initial claim during the past two months: Kentucky (32.3%), Hawaii (31.7%), and Georgia (31.1%).

New and cumulative jobless claims by state: Unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed during the week ending May 2, 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 eight weeks ending May 2 Sum of initial claims as a share of labor force
Alabama 28,183 -62.4% -46,783 1,237% 26,075 447,530 19.9%
Alaska 9,404 -8.8% -909 1,014% 8,560 81,256 23.5%
Arizona 42,909 -18.4% -9,672 1,207% 39,626 521,038 14.4%
Arkansas 12,436 -29.6% -5,235 741% 10,957 191,639 14.0%
California 318,064 -2.2% -7,279 678% 277,192 4,048,317 20.7%
Colorado 28,322 -26.7% -10,340 1,387% 26,418 369,454 11.6%
Connecticut 36,166 9.5% 3,125 1,301% 33,585 301,296 15.6%
Delaware 6,183 -22.2% -1,764 983% 5,612 86,070 17.6%
Washington D.C. 8,133 -6.6% -575 1,689% 7,679 82,327 19.9%
Florida 173,191 -60.0% -259,912 3,318% 168,124 1,772,528 17.0%
Georgia 226,884 -14.9% -39,681 4,138% 221,531 1,601,570 31.1%
Hawaii 16,112 -28.4% -6,383 1,319% 14,976 212,016 31.7%
Idaho 7,194 -18.5% -1,633 553% 6,093 126,037 14.1%
Illinois 74,476 -8.7% -7,120 693% 65,085 904,614 14.1%
Indiana 43,777 -21.5% -11,997 1,645% 41,269 614,597 18.1%
Iowa 24,693 -9.3% -2,527 959% 22,360 286,044 16.3%
Kansas 18,281 -25.3% -6,202 1,033% 16,668 232,187 15.5%
Kentucky 80,060 -12.2% -11,163 3,100% 77,558 674,073 32.3%
Louisiana 52,137 -21.2% -14,004 2,992% 50,451 562,568 26.7%
Maine 16,175 111.1% 8,514 1,984% 15,399 125,866 18.1%
Maryland 65,262 72.1% 27,337 2,264% 62,502 456,237 13.9%
Massachusetts 55,448 -22.3% -15,910 815% 49,390 788,559 20.6%
Michigan 68,952 -15.9% -13,052 1,148% 63,428 1,336,103 27.0%
Minnesota 47,134 -3.0% -1,461 1,239% 43,615 602,829 19.3%
Mississippi 24,810 -17.0% -5,096 2,897% 23,982 221,910 17.4%
Missouri 49,402 -10.7% -5,897 1,526% 46,364 508,440 16.3%
Montana 4,263 -39.5% -2,789 446% 3,482 94,939 17.7%
Nebraska 6,555 -20.3% -1,674 1,190% 6,047 111,559 10.7%
Nevada 30,735 -27.8% -11,806 1,232% 28,428 421,294 27.0%
New Hampshire 11,834 -21.1% -3,167 1,997% 11,270 173,123 22.2%
New Jersey 87,540 21.6% 15,574 970% 79,361 987,436 21.6%
New Mexico 16,801 38.9% 4,708 2,272% 16,093 134,513 14.0%
New York 195,242 -11.0% -24,171 959% 176,812 1,819,857 19.1%
North Carolina 84,716 -14.4% -14,225 3,194% 82,144 837,261 16.4%
North Dakota 4,689 -25.3% -1,585 1,018% 4,270 61,550 15.2%
Ohio 61,046 -34.8% -32,553 736% 53,746 1,127,626 19.3%
Oklahoma 68,237 30.0% 15,737 4,325% 66,695 353,954 19.2%
Oregon 45,102 -8.5% -4,198 1,035% 41,130 330,801 15.7%
Pennsylvania 96,603 -24.5% -31,293 665% 83,982 1,729,168 26.4%
Rhode Island 9,109 -30.4% -3,975 711% 7,986 155,778 27.9%
South Carolina 46,747 -29.6% -19,691 2,304% 44,803 463,661 19.4%
South Dakota 3,756 -32.1% -1,779 1,961% 3,574 37,835 8.1%
Tennessee 37,319 -12.8% -5,486 1,756% 35,309 464,702 13.8%
Texas 247,179 -2.7% -6,905 1,806% 234,208 1,819,235 12.8%
Utah 9,057 -22.8% -2,681 805% 8,056 147,526 9.0%
Vermont 3,759 -26.5% -1,358 511% 3,144 60,686 17.8%
Virginia 61,138 -15.7% -11,350 2,215% 58,497 629,823 14.1%
Washington 109,167 -21.7% -30,338 1,698% 103,097 974,852 24.6%
West Virginia 12,996 -56.4% -16,822 1,050% 11,866 137,931 17.1%
Wisconsin 38,002 -24.0% -11,991 572% 32,348 485,856 15.6%
Wyoming 2,026 -42.1% -1,471 307% 1,528 32,807 11.2%

Notes: Initial claims for the week ending May 2 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. For comparisons to the size of the labor force, we use February 2020 levels.

Every state, especially many in the South, is continuing to struggle relative to the pre-virus period. Last week, Oklahoma saw the largest percent increase in claims (4,325%) compared with the pre-virus period of any state. 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: Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

Sadly, the high amount of UI claims filings understates the true extent of joblessness. Using new survey data, we estimate that millions of people are jobless but unable to claim the unemployment benefits they need simply because the system is overburdened. A recent report by Michele Evermore of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) outline 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.

To mitigate the economic harm to workers, the next federal relief and recovery package should make substantial additional investments in unemployment compensation, including providing additional funding to states to hire the staff they need to speed up processing and to make improvements to websites and other administrative infrastructure. Congress should also extend the across-the-board $600 increase in weekly unemployment benefits well past its expiration at the end of July—at least until unemployment is falling rapidly and is at a manageable level.

Additionally, policymakers must enact and enforce measures to keep workers safe, and extend stay-at-home orders until the coronavirus curve has flattened. At the same time, they must also address gaps in existing coronavirus relief and recovery measures, including insufficient aid to state and local governments.

New and cumulative jobless claims by state: Unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed during the week ending May 2, change in claims, and total claims as share of state labor force

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 eight weeks ending May 2 Sum of initial claims as a share of labor force
Alabama 28,183 -62.4% -46,783 1,237% 26,075 447,530 19.9%
Alaska 9,404 -8.8% -909 1,014% 8,560 81,256 23.5%
Arizona 42,909 -18.4% -9,672 1,207% 39,626 521,038 14.4%
Arkansas 12,436 -29.6% -5,235 741% 10,957 191,639 14.0%
California 318,064 -2.2% -7,279 678% 277,192 4,048,317 20.7%
Colorado 28,322 -26.7% -10,340 1,387% 26,418 369,454 11.6%
Connecticut 36,166 9.5% 3,125 1,301% 33,585 301,296 15.6%
Delaware 6,183 -22.2% -1,764 983% 5,612 86,070 17.6%
District of Columbia 8,133 -6.6% -575 1,689% 7,679 82,327 19.9%
Florida 173,191 -60.0% -259,912 3,318% 168,124 1,772,528 17.0%
Georgia 226,884 -14.9% -39,681 4,138% 221,531 1,601,570 31.1%
Hawaii 16,112 -28.4% -6,383 1,319% 14,976 212,016 31.7%
Idaho 7,194 -18.5% -1,633 553% 6,093 126,037 14.1%
Illinois 74,476 -8.7% -7,120 693% 65,085 904,614 14.1%
Indiana 43,777 -21.5% -11,997 1,645% 41,269 614,597 18.1%
Iowa 24,693 -9.3% -2,527 959% 22,360 286,044 16.3%
Kansas 18,281 -25.3% -6,202 1,033% 16,668 232,187 15.5%
Kentucky 80,060 -12.2% -11,163 3,100% 77,558 674,073 32.3%
Louisiana 52,137 -21.2% -14,004 2,992% 50,451 562,568 26.7%
Maine 16,175 111.1% 8,514 1,984% 15,399 125,866 18.1%
Maryland 65,262 72.1% 27,337 2,264% 62,502 456,237 13.9%
Massachusetts 55,448 -22.3% -15,910 815% 49,390 788,559 20.6%
Michigan 68,952 -15.9% -13,052 1,148% 63,428 1,336,103 27.0%
Minnesota 47,134 -3.0% -1,461 1,239% 43,615 602,829 19.3%
Mississippi 24,810 -17.0% -5,096 2,897% 23,982 221,910 17.4%
Missouri 49,402 -10.7% -5,897 1,526% 46,364 508,440 16.3%
Montana 4,263 -39.5% -2,789 446% 3,482 94,939 17.7%
Nebraska 6,555 -20.3% -1,674 1,190% 6,047 111,559 10.7%
Nevada 30,735 -27.8% -11,806 1,232% 28,428 421,294 27.0%
New Hampshire 11,834 -21.1% -3,167 1,997% 11,270 173,123 22.2%
New Jersey 87,540 21.6% 15,574 970% 79,361 987,436 21.6%
New Mexico 16,801 38.9% 4,708 2,272% 16,093 134,513 14.0%
New York 195,242 -11.0% -24,171 959% 176,812 1,819,857 19.1%
North Carolina 84,716 -14.4% -14,225 3,194% 82,144 837,261 16.4%
North Dakota 4,689 -25.3% -1,585 1,018% 4,270 61,550 15.2%
Ohio 61,046 -34.8% -32,553 736% 53,746 1,127,626 19.3%
Oklahoma 68,237 30.0% 15,737 4,325% 66,695 353,954 19.2%
Oregon 45,102 -8.5% -4,198 1,035% 41,130 330,801 15.7%
Pennsylvania 96,603 -24.5% -31,293 665% 83,982 1,729,168 26.4%
Rhode Island 9,109 -30.4% -3,975 711% 7,986 155,778 27.9%
South Carolina 46,747 -29.6% -19,691 2,304% 44,803 463,661 19.4%
South Dakota 3,756 -32.1% -1,779 1,961% 3,574 37,835 8.1%
Tennessee 37,319 -12.8% -5,486 1,756% 35,309 464,702 13.8%
Texas 247,179 -2.7% -6,905 1,806% 234,208 1,819,235 12.8%
Utah 9,057 -22.8% -2,681 805% 8,056 147,526 9.0%
Vermont 3,759 -26.5% -1,358 511% 3,144 60,686 17.8%
Virginia 61,138 -15.7% -11,350 2,215% 58,497 629,823 14.1%
Washington 109,167 -21.7% -30,338 1,698% 103,097 974,852 24.6%
West Virginia 12,996 -56.4% -16,822 1,050% 11,866 137,931 17.1%
Wisconsin 38,002 -24.0% -11,991 572% 32,348 485,856 15.6%
Wyoming 2,026 -42.1% -1,471 307% 1,528 32,807 11.2%

Notes: Initial claims for the week ending April 25 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. For comparisons to the size of the labor force, we use February 2020 levels.





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