Thursday, January 28, 2021

More claims in all types of unemployment programs for January

The third full week of 2021 continued a bad trend in the jobs market, as new unemployment claims remained high.
In the week ending January 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claimswas 847,000, a decrease of 67,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 14,000 from 900,000 to 914,000. The 4-week movingaverage was 868,000, an increase of 16,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,750 from 848,000 to 851,750.
And while last week was a seasonally-adjusted decline from the week before, the overall trend continues to rise after bottoming out in late November.
What we also saw in this report that Americans are reapplying to the gig economy-related PUA program, and the PEUC program for the long-term unemployed. Both of these programs were slated to end on December 26, and because Congress and President Trump delayed in getting the next round of stimulus through, those programs weren't restored until December 28.

The data we have for both of these programs only goes through the week ending on January 9. But we can see where people didn't apply for those programs at the end of 2020 and over New Year's, because they didn't think the program would be around. And then they came back on the week of Jan 9.
This meant that over 17.5 million Americans were approved for benefits in the middle of January, with little to indicate that it would let off any time soon. But the delays in reauthorizing PUA and extending PEUC is also likely keeping people in many states from getting benefits, even if they did re-apply. Wisconsin is an example of one of those states.

Neeraj Kulkarni, director of DWD's Bureau of Information Technology, said in a legislative committee hearing Wednesday afternoon that the department expects to have PEUC benefits available to unemployment recipients in the first week of March, "as of our current estimates."...

Kulkarni didn't share a timeline for when new benefits under another federal program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), would be available. That program extends unemployment benefits to those not typically covered by the unemployment system, like self-employed people and contract workers.

Congress similarly granted an extra 11 weeks of benefits to recipients in the PUA program in the latest round of coronavirus relief.
While the weekly stats don't indicate how many benefits are being PAID, these delays are likely discouraging some Wisconsinites from applying, as the number of PEUC applicants has fallen by nearly 15% since the last week of December, and the number of PUA claims has remained virtually flat in the last 2 weeks while it has risen in other parts of America.

We'll see next week if this trend of increased unemployment claims translates into a second straight month of job losses in the country. And it's worth mentioning that PUA, PEUC and many of these other measures are again looking at a lapse in 6 weeks. Given the high number of claims that keeps coming in, that'll likely be in line for another extension soon.

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