America's Scariest Charts, Sept. 27 Edition

Written by Constantin

The economic crisis accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic has nothing more serious than the massive impact on US employment. I have created a collection of graphics covering this which I call "America's Scariest Charts".


Continued Unemployment Claims

The latest data is covering the period through September 12, 2020.

  • On a non-seasonally-adjusted basis, there were 13,355,586 Americans with continued unemployment claims in the week of September 12, 2020, an increase of 212,869 on the week prior, but 9,438,559 down on the COVID19 peak reached in the week of May 9, 2020. At the lowest point in pre-COVID expansion period, weekly continued claims stood at 1,350,834.
  • In the last 4 weeks through September 12, 2020, average decline in continued unemployment claims was 461,476. At this rate of decline, it will take the U.S. economy 26-27 weeks to recover its pre-COVID19 lows in terms of continued unemployment.
  • Current level of continued unemployment claims implies 9.14% unemployment rate.



Per charts above - covering seasonally-adjusted data that has been subject significant methodological revisions starting with September 2020:

  • It would take thee U.S. economy 33 weeks from September 12, 2020 to complete full recovery to pre-COVID19 levels of continued unemployment claims
  • In seasonally-adjusted terms, unlike in terms of raw data discussed above, September 12, 2020 continued unemployment claims stood at 12,580,000 down 167,000 on week prior.

Employment & Initial Unemployment Claims

Starting with initial unemployment claims (continued claims are covered in the section above) through the week ending September 19, 2020, based on non-seasonally adjusted data:

  • Initial unemployment claims fell to 796,015 in the week ending September 12 - marking the lowest number of new claims filed in any week since the start of the COVID19 crisis.
  • The new claims rose back to 824,542 in the week ending September 19, bringing the numbers of new claims back above 800,000.
  • The latest 4 weeks average new unemployment claims stand at 830,890 weekly claims, which is above the highest number reached since the peak of the Global Financial Crisis.
  • Pre-COVID19 period historical high was attained in the week of September 1, 1982 at 1,073,500 new claims filed. The latest reading for September 2020 ranks as the 35th highest in the entire history and 10th highest if COVID19 period data was excluded from the set.
  • The latest 3 months cumulative new claims number stands at 13,789,312, down from the COVID19 pandemic peak of 41,865,591.
  • Current cumulative count (3 months) is 4,607,312 above the pre-COVID historical high attained March 1, 1975.
  • Since the start of the labour markets recovery, average weekly improvement in the initial claims has been a reduction of 224,453 claims per week. This fell to just 305 claims reductions per week over the last 4 weeks. This is not encouraging.
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