Initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) fell for the fifth week in a row last week. While each week’s report pushes further past the peak of initial claims, millions of Americans are still filing for unemployment insurance each week. Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 3.8 million on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to the latest figures from the Department of Labor for the week ending April 25, 2020. That pushes the total of UI claims to over 30 million in the past six weeks. In other words, the number of Americans who’ve filed for UI is larger than the entire Texas population. Claims for the week of April 18 were revised up to 4.44 million from 4.43 million.
Several states have begun reopening, pushing many furloughed workers to choose between returning to work and losing their UI payments. This may decrease initial and continuing UI claims in those states. However, the staggered reopening is unlikely to immediately staunch the flow of new claims, especially if restrictions are later reinstated.
Conversely, claims are still elevated as states ramp up processing capacity and implement the expansion of UI eligibility under the CARES Act. Two recent surveys indicate millions more Americans have been unable to successfully apply to UI yet. While neither offers a precise prediction, they represent millions of Americans unaccounted for by current claims data who could apply for UI in coming weeks. We may be past the peak of initial claims, but we aren’t out of the woods yet.
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