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A Glimpse At The U.S. Weekly Employment Situation

Updated : September 18th, 2020

A Glimpse At The US. Weekly Employment Situation

Ever since the economy has reopened, states have witnessed a dip in the unemployment rate and claims. According to the Labor Department’s reports, the seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims were 860,000 in the week ending September 12, a decrease of 33,000 claims from the previous week. The 4-week moving average for the week ending September 12 was 912,000, a decrease of 61,000 from the previous week’s revised average. 

While the unadjusted initial claims fell by 8.8% in the week ending September 12 compared to the previous week, the seasonal factors decreased by 4.9% from the previous week. Though the numbers have decreased when compared to the week ending September 5, the states saw 173,134 initial claims in the 2019’s comparable week. In addition, 52 states reported 658,737 initial claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for the week ending September 12. 

On the other hand, the unadjusted insured unemployment claims for the week ending September 5 decreased 0.7% and seasonal factor by 0.9% from the previous week. 

Though the total number of initial claims decreased in the week ending September 5 when compared to the week ending August 29, some states witnessed increase in the claims. The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 5 were in Texas (+8,618), California (+23,841), New Jersey (+2,402), Louisiana (+8,375), and Washington (+2,173).

Unemployment Claims Across Various States 

The number of initial unemployment claims decreased significantly in many states in the week ending September 12. For instance, 

Texas 

In Texas, about 49,644 people filed initial Unemployment Insurance (UI) applications in the week ending September 12. This is the lowest number of claims filed since mid-March. 

Louisiana 

In Louisiana, the initial unemployment claims were 24,566 for the week ending September 5. However, it dropped to 16,182 for the week ending September 12. On the other hand, the continued unemployment claims for the week ending September 12 decreased to 250,244 from 256,184 for the week ending September 5. However, the continued claims were much above the comparable figure for the week ending September 12, 2019. 

Washington 

In Washington, the initial claims dropped by 8% from the previous week. An estimated 18,403 people filed their initial unemployment claims for the week ending September 12. On the other hand, the continued unemployment claims increased by 6.6% from the previous week. 

While the initial claims applications for the traditional Unemployment Insurance program decreased over the week, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims increased over the week. 

According to the Employment Security Department (ESD), about 566,443 total unemployment claims (all categories) were filed for the week ending September 12.  

Initial regular claims applications in the state remained at elevated levels. However, they are at 242% above the 2019 year’s weekly new unemployment claims.

Besides the listed states, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, Illinois, South Dakota, etc. received lesser initial unemployment claims for the week ending September 12 than the previous week. However, states like Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, and a few others saw a surge in applications compared to the previous week. 

Reasons For Decrease In Unemployment Claims 

Some states witnessed a dip in the initial claims due to the addition of the Nonfarm payrolls. In August, about 1.37 million jobs were added, leading to improvement in the states’ employment situation. 

In addition, government hiring boosted the labor market, with the growth of approximately 344,000 workers accounting for the monthly gain. The majority hiring came from Census workers, whose rolls surged by 328,000. The local government jobs have also increased by 95,000 regardless of the revenue worries crunched at the municipal level.

These continued efforts helped the states to improve economic activity that curtailed due to the measures taken to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

Why Is The Unemployment Situation In Some States Recovering Faster?

Several factors are causing economies of some states to recover faster than others. Some of them include: 

1. Fewer Infections And Stronger Recovery

During the early days of the pandemic, many economists repeatedly stressed that the virus trajectory is a major factor that will determine the severity of the economic crisis as well as the speed of its rebound. 

Today, the states operating closest to normal are the ones that recorded the fewest Coronavirus cases. For instance, Maine has recorded the country’s second-lowest infection rate, that is only 366 Coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. 

In recent times, the state’s economy is operating close to 93% as compared to early March, making it the number one state to be on the Back-to-Normal Index. Like Vermont and New Hampshire, some other states that rank high on the Back-to-Normal Index have recorded the lowest infection rate proving that virus trajectory directly impacts economic activities. 

2. Rural Places Successfully Implements Social Distancing   

Rural states like Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota boast stronger economic rebounds than states like Texas, California, and New York, which are among the bottom states on the Back-to-Normal Index. 

This is because Texas, New York, etc. are densely populated, and when social-distancing orders are in effect, there is not sufficient space to roam. This stops people from visiting places like restaurants, thereby impacting such businesses. Also, millions of commuters aren’t able to take public transport and reach their workplace. 

3. Real Estate Is Trending In Some States

East Coast cities like New York and Boston have become popular work-from-home destinations. Also, high mortgage rates in some states have driven the dwellers to abandon their present home and look for first or second homes in cities with lower rates. 

4. Different Sources Of Revenue 

While some states get the majority of its revenue from retail and other industries, states like Hawaii mainly depend on the tourism sector, which is the worst hit by the pandemic. As a result, the economy in such states is far away from recovering. 

Closing Thoughts 

With more and more states restarting the economy, the unemployment rate and claims nationwide are expected to decrease in the coming weeks. However, it is difficult to predict how long it would take for all states to begin operating normally and contribute to the country’s economy. 

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