Weekly unemployment claims continued to fall during the week ending on July 4th. 1.3 million new claims were filed last week, after stagnating at 1.5 million during the previous two periods. New unemployment applications are steadily declining, but remain over 1 million for the fifteenth week in a row.
There were also 18.1 million ongoing claims. The insured unemployment rate, or those collecting benefits as a percentage of the total workforce, sits at 12.4%. 21 million jobs disappeared in March and April, but the economy clawed back 7.5 million positions in the past two months.
Utilization of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program rose last week. The program is part of the CARES Act, and assists the self-employed who have lost business because of the coronavirus. Typically, freelancers do not qualify for unemployment benefits. 1.04 million self-employed workers applied for assistance last week, an increase of about 40,000. There are currently 14.4 million recipients under the program.
Last week’s numbers may be a lowball estimate of new job losses. Independence Day was observed on Friday, giving applicants one fewer day to apply for benefits. The July 4th unemployment estimate is based on a four day work week, instead of five.
On a state level, Texas saw the biggest jump in job losses, exceeding 20,000 new claims. In June, the governor was forced to reverse plans to reopen the state as new coronavirus cases piled up. Florida, Georgia, and Indiana saw the biggest drops in new applications.
Unemployment has slowly fallen after spiking at 14.7% in April. It contracted to 13.3% in May, and then 11.1% in June. There were 5.4 million job openings in May.