Initial Unemployment Claims Are On The Rise Again

Initial unemployment claims rose for the fourth time in five weeks.

4-Week Moving Average in Initial Claims 

The best way to spotlight trends in initial claims is to look at the 4-week moving average. 

I added that chart for this week's report.

The 4-week moving average trend lower bottomed two weeks ago at 740,000 and is now 812,500. 

It rose for the second consecutive week. That hasn't happened since April 18.

Initial State Unemployment Claims in 2020 2020-11-17 

Initial State Unemployment Claims in 2020 2020-11-17 Report

Initial unemployment claims are seasonally adjusted. Initial claims were in the 200,000 to 215,000 range pre-pandemic. They are now 855,000. 

Continued State Unemployment Claims 

Continued State Unemployment Claims in 2020 2020-11-17 Report

Continued state unemployment claims are also seasonally adjusted. They lag initial claims by a week. 

Continued claims ticked lower, but this is a statistical mirage. 

People fall off the rolls as benefits expire. Millions have now expired benefits

When people exhaust their state benefits they are eligible for emergency federal benefits.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Claims (PEUC)

PEUC Calism in 2020 2020-11-17 Report

PEUC claims lag continued claims by a week, They are not seasonally adjusted.

PEUC benefits kick in after people have exhausted regular state benefits.

Despite the lags and the seasonal adjustment mix, you can get a better feel for the true state of affairs by adding PEU claims to continued claims.

As with continued state claims, millions of workers have exhausted their PEUC benefits as well.

Thus, even the addition of PEUC claims to continued claims understates the problem by millions.

PUA Claims

Primary PUA Claims in 2020 2020-11-17 Report

PUA claims cover part-time workers and self-employed. They are not seasonally adjusted.

This program is rife with fraud, double-counting, and reporting errors. 

That said, some percentage of PUA claims are not fraudulent. And of that subset, some of those on PUA claims are not working at all. 

All Continued Claims in 2020

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