Updated state unemployment numbers: In 10 states, more than one in six workers are receiving or have filed for regular unemployment
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released the most recent unemployment insurance (UI) claims data yesterday, showing that another 1.5 million people filed for regular UI benefits last week (not seasonally adjusted) and 0.7 million for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the new program for workers who aren’t eligible for regular UI, such as gig workers. As we look at the aggregate measures of economic harm, it is important to remember that this recession is deepening racial inequalities. Black communities are suffering more from this pandemic—both physically and economically—as a result of, and in addition to, systemic racism and violence.
As of last week, more than one in five people in the workforce are either receiving or have recently applied for unemployment benefits—regular or PUA. These benefits are a critical lifeline that help workers make ends meet while practicing the necessary social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus. In fact, the $600 increase in weekly UI benefits was perhaps the most effective measure in the CARES Act for insulating workers from economic harm and jump-starting an eventual economic rebound, and it should be extended past July.
Figure A and Table 1 show the total number of workers who either made it through at least the first round of regular state UI processing as of May 30 (these are known as “continued” claims) or filed initial regular UI claims during the weeks of May 30 or June 6. Figure A and Table 2 show the total number of workers who either made it through at least the first round of PUA processing by May 23 or filed initial PUA claims during the weeks of May 23, May 30, or June 6. We do not sum the two totals together because some states have misreported PUA claims in their initial claims data, leading to potential double counting.1
New and cumulative jobless claims by state: Unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed and numbers and shares of workers either receiving unemployment benefits or waiting for approval during the week ending June 6
|State||Initial regular UI claims filed in most recent week||Total currently receiving or applied for regular UI||Regular UI as a share of labor force||Total currently receiving or applied for PUA|
Notes: Initial claims for the week ending June 6 reflect advance state claims, not seasonally adjusted. For comparisons to the size of the labor force, we use February 2020 levels. Totals reflect the number of workers whose have made it through at least the first round of processing or are waiting for their claim to be processed.
Four states had more than one million workers either receiving regular UI benefits or waiting for their claim to be approved: California (3.3 million), New York (1.9 million), Texas (1.4 million), and Florida (1.3 million). Twenty-four additional states had more than a quarter million workers receiving or awaiting benefits.
While the largest U.S. states unsurprisingly have the highest numbers of UI claimants, some smaller states have larger shares of the workforce filing for unemployment. Figure A and Table 1 also show the numbers of workers in each state who are receiving or waiting for regular UI benefits as a share of the February 2020 labor force. We use February as a baseline since it predates the effects of the pandemic on the labor market. In 10 states, more than one in six workers are receiving regular UI benefits or waiting on their claim to be approved: Oregon (23.8%), Nevada (22.5%), Hawaii (19.9%), New York (19.7%), Georgia (19.0%), District of Columbia (18.6%), Michigan (18.4%), Alaska (17.8%), California (17.1%), and Massachusetts (16.7%).
Table 2 displays the reported number of people who applied for PUA—the new federal program that extends unemployment compensation to workers who are not eligible for regular UI but are out of work due to the pandemic, such as gig workers and people who left their jobs to care for a child.
As of last week, DOL reported that over 12 million workers across 42 states are receiving or waiting on a decision for PUA benefits, which underscores the importance of extending benefits to those who would otherwise not have been eligible. Five states have at least a million workers in this category: Michigan (1.8 million), New York (1.3 million), California (1.3 million), Pennsylvania (1.3 million), and Massachusetts (1.1 million). Because the PUA program is new, state reporting of PUA claims has been uneven and, in some cases, there may be duplication between claims reported under PUA and the regular UI system. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to identify possible errors or misclassifications in the data without contacting each individual state UI agency; for now, we simply show the PUA claims as they are reported to DOL.
To mitigate the economic harm to workers, the next federal relief and recovery package should include worker protections, investments in our democracy, resources for coronavirus testing and contact tracing (which is necessary to reopen the economy), and an extension of the across-the-board $600 increase in weekly unemployment benefits well past its expiration at the end of July. The package should also include substantial aid to state and local governments, so that they can invest in public health and education. Without this aid, a prolonged depression is inevitable and 5.3 million workers would likely lose their jobs by the end of 2021, especially if state and local governments make the same budget and employment cuts that slowed the recovery after the Great Recession.
1. Unless otherwise noted, the numbers in this blog post are the ones reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, which they receive from the state agencies that administer UI. While DOL is asking states to report regular UI claims and PUA claims separately, many states are also including some or all PUA claimants in their reported regular UI claims. As state agencies work to get these new programs up and running, there will likely continue to be some misreporting. Since the number of UI claims is one of the most up-to-date measures of labor market weakness and access to benefits, we will still be analyzing it each week as reported by DOL, but we ask that you keep these caveats in mind when interpreting the data.
New and cumulative regular jobless claims by state: Regular unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed and numbers and shares of workers either receiving regular unemployment benefits or waiting for approval during the week ending June 6
|State||Most recent week initial claims: 06/06/2020||Most recent continued claims claims: 05/30/2020||Total initial claims – most recent 2 weeks||Total currently receiving or applied for UI||Total currently receiving or applied for UI as a share of the labor force|
|District of Columbia||3,291||70,283||6,850||77,133||18.6%|
Notes: Initial claims for the week ending June 6 reflect advance state claims, not seasonally adjusted. For comparisons to the size of the labor force, we use February 2020 levels.
New and cumulative Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims by state: PUA claims filed and numbers and shares of workers either receiving PUA benefits or waiting for approval during the week ending June 6
|State||Most recent week initial claims: 06/06/2020||Most recent continued claims claims: 05/23/2020||Total initial claims – most recent 3 weeks||Total currently receiving or applied for PUA||Total currently receiving or applied for PUA as a share of the labor force|
Notes: Initial claims for the week ending June 6 reflect advance state claims, not seasonally adjusted.