Graham Kilmer

Unemployment Claims Are Dropping

Generally improving employment is tempered by the millions of jobs that remain lost.

By - Nov 13th, 2020 04:38 pm
On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

The number of new claims for unemployment insurance, as well as the number of people claiming unemployment insurance, continues to drop.

Last week, there were 709,000 initial claims across the U.S., which is 48,000 fewer than the week before.

The number of initial claims has been slowly, but steadily, dropping for the past eight weeks.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s latest data on the number of people actively claiming some form of unemployment assistance is from the week ending October 24th. At that time, there were 21,157,111 people receiving payments from an unemployment program. A decrease of more than 374,000 from the week prior.

At that time in 2019, however, there were only 1,449,519 claiming benefits.

The reason for the steady reduction in unemployment claimants is likely two-fold. 

First, employment is improving nationally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The country added an estimated 638,000 jobs in October. And the unemployment rate dropped to 6.9%.

Second, the country is eight months into the pandemic. And while employment is improving, there are still millions of jobs that haven’t come back. And people are starting to exhaust their employment insurance.

A federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PEUC) is available to people that have run out of their traditional state unemployment insurance. And for months now, the number of people actively claiming PEUC has been increasing, week over week. As of October 24th, there were 4.1 million people claiming PEUC.

This suggests that more and more Americans are experiencing long-term unemployment, and are running out of government assistance.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently stopped PEUC for claimants in Wisconsin, saying that the insured unemployment rate — which is the percentage of the labor force receiving unemployment — fell below 5%, which is the cut-off for the program.

The numbers nationally are steadily dropping, but the number of initial claims in Wisconsin are staying relatively the same. There were 17,832 initial claims for unemployment in the seven days since the last time Urban Milwaukee reported them. During that period in 2019, there were 6,494 claims.

Since the beginning of October, Wisconsin has been seeing between 17,000 and 19,000 claims for unemployment insurance every seven days. In 2019, the state saw 17,189 claims for the entire month.

Read the labor department report here.

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Categories: Business, Economics

One thought on “Unemployment Claims Are Dropping”

  1. just1paul says:

    Dropping because the benefits are exhausted

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