Little Progress On Unemployment Claims But Checks Grind To A Halt

There has been no progress on initial claims as continued claims creep lower.

Initial Claims

For the weeks ending August 29, September 5, September 12, and September 17, and September 26 there were 884,000, 893,000, 870,000, 866,000, and  837,000 seasonally-adjusted claims respectively according to the Department of Labor.

Given margins of error on seasonally adjusted data there has been no progress for five weeks.

Continued Claims

Continued State Unemployment Claims in 2020 October 1  Report

Continued claims lag initial claims by a week.

For the weeks ending August 29, and September 5, September 17, and September 26 there were 13,554,000, 12,747,000, 12,580,000,  11,767,000 seasonally-adjusted claims respectively.

The downward slope (pace of progress) has not changed since May. At the same pace of progress, continued claims will be above 10 million for many months.

It's continued state claims that determine the official unemployment rate, not that anyone of intelligence believes the BLS number.

The reference week for the unemployment report is the week that contains the 13th of the month. That week is the week ending August 15 for the August payroll report. I

For August 15, there were 14,492,000 continued claims. Yet the BLS reported said there were 13,550,000 unemployed in August.

Questioning the Unemployment Rate

Questioning the BLS Unemployment Rate

There should be a minimum of 14,492,000 unemployed plus at least several more million gig and self-employed workers who do not qualify for state unemployment insurance.

The BLS says nope, just 13,550,000.

The continued claims reference week for the September jobs report is the week ending September 19. 

The BLS number to note is 11,767,000. Unemployment claims should be at least that number plus 2-3 million more.

Primary PUA Claims

Primary PUA Claims in 2020  October 1 Report

Primary PUA claims are not seasonally adjusted. They lag initial claims by two weeks and continued claims by a week.

Unlike state claims, PUA claims cover part-time workers.

They also cover truly unemployed workers not eligible for state claims. People in this category include the self-employed, various gig workers, and anyone who exhausted state benefits.

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