It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for new weekly unemployment claims. For the past two weeks, unemployment had begun rising again, after falling for fifteen weeks in a row.
New filings for the week ending on August 1st fell by a seasonally adjusted 249,000, to 1.2 million. This was lower than the Dow Jones expectation for 1.42 million. Continuing unemployment shrank by 844,000, to 1.61 million for the week ending on July 25th.
The economy absolutely crashed once lockdowns began at the end of March. Concerning the unemployment picture, 20.5 million jobs were lost in March and April alone (in comparison, 23 million jobs were created in the decade following the Great Recession). Initial unemployment filings topped out at 6.9 million in March, and have stayed above 1 million for 20 consecutive weeks so far. The previous record for weekly unemployment claims prior to the pandemic was 695,000, in 1982.
Things started to turn around after April. 7.5 million jobs were created in May and June, and the financial landscape started to look more optimistic. On August 5th, the payroll company ADP announced that the private sector added 167,000 jobs in July. Now, the number of new claims is more akin to numbers at the start of the pandemic, before lockdowns went into full swing.
Unemployment assistance programs that were created to help during shutdowns have ended. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which aided 655,707 individuals at the end of its life, expired on July 31st. Enhanced unemployment benefits, the subject of recent gridlock in Congress, also ended last week.
July’s unemployment situation, a broad picture of joblessness in the United States, will be released tomorrow.