Unemployment Insurance Claims Jump Back Above 1 Million

Americans filing initial unemployment claims jumped back above one million for the week ending Aug. 15, the Labor Department said, suggesting a more difficult climb out of the economic hole triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Labor reported for the week ending Aug. 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims jumped to 1,106,000, an increase of 135,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average, however, fell to 1,175,750, a decrease of 79,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent for the week ending August 8, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment—also known as continuing claims—for the week ending August 8 fell to 14,844,000, a decrease of 636,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The four-week moving average fell to 15,841,250, a decrease of 326,750 from the previous week’s revised average.

Sarah House, Senior Economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C., said Thursday’s numbers reflect a labor market recovery still “reeling” from the coronavirus economy.

“The labor market’s recovery remains precarious,” House said. “With claims still hovering around one million, the jobs recovery still has a long way to go.”

Doug Duncan, Chief Economist with Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C., said the report “illustrates that the labor market’s ongoing recovery will be bumpy, with week-to-week fluctuations expected.”

Duncan noted the initial claims figure “still remains well above the peak level seen during the previous recession” and that the headline number does not include an additional 543,000 claims filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, an increase from the prior week.