Initial Claims Under 700,000 First Time in Year
Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by nearly 100,000 last week, dropping below 700,000 for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic staggered the U.S. economy last March, the Labor Department reported yesterday.
The report said for the week ending March 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims fell to 684,000, a decrease of 97,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised up by 11,000 from 770,000 to 781,000. The four-week moving average fell to 736,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised average.
Labor said the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate dropped to 2.7 percent for the week ending March 13, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured
unemployment during the week ending March 13 fell to 3,870,000, a decrease of 264,000 from the previous week’s level, which revised up by 10,000 from 4,124,000 to 4,134,000. The four-week moving average fell to 4,120,750, a decrease of 137,250 from the previous week’s revised average.
The report said the advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 656,789 in the week ending March 20, a decrease of 100,412 (or -13.3 percent) from the previous week. Seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 3,865 (or -0.5 percent) from the previous week. Labor reported 2,920,162 initial claims in the comparable week in 2020. In addition, for the week ending March 20, 51 states reported 241,745 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
The report said the advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate fell to 3.0 percent during the week ending March 13, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted level of insured unemployment in state programs totaled 4,217,259, a decrease of 278,573 (or -6.2 percent) from the preceding week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 14,896 (or -0.3 percent) from the previous week. A year earlier the rate was 1.4 percent and the volume was 2,074,782.
The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending March 6 rose to 18,952,795, an increase of 733,862 from the previous week. Labor reported 2,006,387 weekly claims filed for benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2020.
“While the ranks of beneficiaries remain staggeringly high at 19 million, the unemployment benefits flowing to these individuals is just another example of the significant income support to households this cycle that has kept consumer spending relatively buoyant,” said Sarah House, Senior Economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C.
House noted a year ago this week in which the economic carnage of the COVID pandemic started to become clear—initial weekly filings for unemployment shot up to 3.31 million, five-times the level of the worst week of the Great Recession. Filings rocketed even higher the following week, reaching 6.87 million, and have stayed above the peak of the Great Recession ever since.