Comments on Weekly Unemployment Claims

A few comments:

On a monthly basis, in normal times, most analysts focus on initial unemployment claims for the BLS reference week of the employment report. For August, the BLS reference week is August 9th through the 15th (the current week), and initial claims for this week will be released next week.

However, continued claims are probably much more useful now. Continued claims are released with a one week lag, so continued claims for the reference week will be released in two weeks. Continued claims are down 1.5 million from the reference week in July, suggesting some increase in employment in August.

Continued claims decreased last week to 15,486,000 (SA) from 16,090,000 (SA) the previous week. Continued claims are now down 9.4 million from the peak, suggesting a large number of people have returned to their jobs (as the last three employment reports showed).

There are another 10,723,396 people receiving continued PUA.

The following graph shows regular initial unemployment claims (blue) and PUA claims (red) since early February.

Click on graph for larger image.

This was the 21st consecutive week with extraordinarily high initial claims, however initial claims have declined over the last two weeks.

We are probably seeing some layoffs related to the higher level of COVID cases and also from the end of some Payroll Protection Programs (PPP).

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