Initial Unemployment Claims Suffer Setback

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rose for the week ending Nov. 14, hamstrung by a dramatic jump in coronavirus cases and no sign of a new economic stimulus program before next year.

The Labor Department reported for the week ending November 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims jumped to 742,000, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was also 742,000, a decrease of 13,750 from the previous week’s revised average.

The report said the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent for the week ending November 7, a decrease of 0.3 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 7—also known as continuing claims—fell to 6,372,000, a decrease of 429,000 from the previous week. The 4-week moving average fell to 7,054,500, a decrease of 525,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

“Claims are likely to stay elevated amid the latest wave of COVID, with the ranks of the long-term unemployed rising,” said Sarah House, Senior Economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C. “The latest wave of COVID and renewed efforts to combat its spread is weighing on the labor market’s recovery.”

House noted continuing claims for regular benefits fell by 429,000 the week of Nov. 7, but the number of workers on extended benefit programs rose through Oct. 31, reflecting a growing number of long-term unemployed. “With more localized restrictions and signs of households hunkering down the past couple of weeks, we expect initial filings and continuing claims recipients to stay elevated,” she said.