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Jobless Claims Dip Slightly

New claims for jobless benefits showed slight improvement for the week ending March 13, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday in its weekly report.

There were 457,000 new claims last week, down 5,000 from the previous week after a drop of 6,000 in the week prior. The four-week moving average, which smooths out weekly volatility, fell by 4,250 to 471,250. These numbers show very little change from February and are well above the readings in January.

Continuing claims, up 12,000 to 4.579 million for the week ending March 6, also show that there's really no improvement in the job market. The four-week moving average for continuing claims is 4.575 million, slightly down from February numbers.

States reported that 5,888,048 people were claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) for the week ending February 27. Those who are unemployed for the long term can apply for EUC when the normal state-sponsored unemployment benefits run out, which is normally 26 weeks, or six months. In the same week a year ago, there were 2,086,682 people claiming EUC.

The insured unemployment rate for the week ending March 6 is holding steady from the previous week's reading at 3.5%. But the percentage of people who are unemployed in this country, insured or not, is actually 9.7%.

For the week ending February 27, Alaska had the highest insured unemployment rate at 7.2%, followed by Oregon at 6.3%, Pennsylvania at 6.3%, Idaho at 6.2%, Montana and Wisconsin each at 6.1%, and Puerto Rico at 6%. Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and Rhode Island also had high insured unemployment rates, all at or above 5.4%.

In the week ending March 6, North Carolina had the largest increase in new claims from the previous week, with 5,100 more claims than in the week before. Illinois, Oregon, Ohio, and Alabama also had a significant increase in the number of new claims.

The largest decrease for that same week was in New York, which had 10,929 fewer new claims than in the previous week. California also showed a significant decrease in initial claims, with 7,235 fewer claims than in the week before. Connecticut, Kentucky, and West Virginia reported a small decrease in new claims.

The Department of Labor's new jobless claims data shows how many individuals are applying for unemployment benefits for the first time, and draws a good picture of the overall job market.

An increase in the number of new claims shows that people are not able to quickly replace a recently lost job with a new job. While fewer claims is always better than more claims, we're seeing that a very large number of people are still losing their jobs each week and the jobs out there are scarce.

U.S. Department of Labor
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Monday, 13 July 2020

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