Higher Unemployment Level As Some States Are Slower To Reopen

Improvement is being made in the job market as the continuing claims data and unemployment rate continue to decline. In addition to the continuing claims category and as a result of the pandemic, another category of unemployment insurance has been created, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) category. The PUA program had 11.5 million individuals receiving benefits as of the week ending September 5. This category is almost as large as the regular unemployment category which totaled 12.3 million individuals for the same ending week. As can be seen in the below chart, continuing claims, including PUA has improved; however, unemployment assistance across these categories remains at too high of a level.

When examining which states account for a large portion of the claims, there are six. The six states are California, New York, Texas, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. These six states account for about 50% of the continuing claims as well as the claims plus the PUA category. Below is a chart showing the total insured claims for each of those respective states. The box on the chart shows the number of individuals obtaining assistance under the PUA program.

The next chart below shows the unemployment rate for each of those six states. Of the six, California has the highest percentage rate of unemployment at 15.7%, and Texas the lowest at 7.9%. The second chart below shows the insured unemployment rate for the U.S. along with the unemployment rate that includes the PUA category.

It goes without saying, but as these larger states reopen or begin to reopen, employment levels will improve. The reopening map at this link provides an overview of the reopening status of each state. It should be noted some states may show as reopened, like Indiana, but certain areas may not be. For example in the case of Indiana, Marion County, which includes the state capital of Indianapolis, is not fully opened.

The employment data is important as the consumer accounts for nearly 70% of the economy or GDP. I touched on this in a post earlier this month, along with highlights on the improving economy. A nice boost to economic growth would be seeing the employment picture improve at a faster pace.

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