Initial UI Claims Decline for the Tenth Week in a Row; Still High by Historical Standards

The figure below shows the counts of initial unemployment claims in the U.S. from the week ending March 14, 2020 to the week ending June 6, 2020. The week ending on March 28 had the highest number of initial claims at 6,867,000, with the number of initial claims declining each week since that time. Last week, 1,542,000 workers filed a claim. Over the course of the last 13 weeks, 44,488,000 workers have filed initial unemployment claims.

The next figure depicts the initial claims in the U.S., the cumulative number of initial claims, and the number of insured unemployed workers.  This latter group includes those workers who are receiving unemployment benefits. As seen in the figure, the number of insured unemployed workers with continuing claims have been relatively stable for the past three weeks and are lower than the peak number during the week ending May 9 when they reached almost 25 million workers.  For the week ending May 30, the number of workers receiving UI benefits was 20,929,000, yielding an insured unemployment rate of 14.4%. Note that the insured unemployment rate is typically lower than the overall unemployment rate because it measures the percentage of covered workers who are receiving benefits. Some unemployed workers are not receiving benefits because they are not covered by unemployment insurance, their benefits have expired, or they have not filed a claim. For example, the average of the weekly insured unemployment rate in April was 11.7% while the official national unemployment rate for April was 14.7%.


Initial unemployment claims in the state of Texas are depicted below. Over the last 13 weeks, 2,415,739 workers in Texas have filed unemployment claims. Weekly claims rose for the weeks ending on March 21 through April 4 when they reached their peak of 315,167. Since the peak, initial claims have generally declined, and this past week filed claims fell to 89,736.


The next figure shows the initial claims along with the cumulative claims and the insured unemployed. The number of workers in Texas receiving unemployment benefits for the week ending on May 30 was 1,241,464. For the week ending on May 23, the number of insured unemployed rose to 1,401,773, resulting in an insured unemployment rate of 11.4%. 


While still historically high, both nationally and in the state of Texas, the number of weekly initial claims have been declining over the last two months. The number of insured unemployed workers declined in the most recent week nationally and in the state.  At least the trend is headed in the right direction.


Posted: June 12, 2020 by Carlos I. Navarro, Andrew J. Rettenmaier