17 Sep U.S. Workers Filed 881K Claims For Jobless Benefits Last Week
More than 880,000 people filed new applications for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.
The numbers are not directly comparable to previous weeks because of a change the Labor Department made in how it calculates the claims, which are seasonally adjusted. The number appears lower than the previous week’s 1 million claims, but that reflects a change in the Labor Department’s methodology rather than a strengthening of the U.S. labor market, economists say.
On an unadjusted basis, unemployment claims under state programs rose 0.9 percent from the previous week.
An additional 760,000 laid-off workers filed for jobless aid under the new pandemic unemployment assistance program, created for those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits like the self-employed and gig workers. That also marks a rise from the previous week’s 607,806 claims under that program.
Overall claims remain at historic highs. In total, more than 29.2 million workers are receiving unemployment insurance benefits, the Labor Department said, an increase from the prior week’s 27 million.
Why the change? The Labor Department regularly reports seasonally adjusted data, which accounts for expected changes in the labor market, such as when a large number of temporary retail employees get laid off after the holidays.
But economists say that methodology had been causing major distortions to the data during this recession, given how many workers were filing for unemployment due to unexpected coronavirus shutdowns. Experts welcome the change, which they say should make the numbers more accurate in the future, but they warn against trying to compare this week’s seasonally adjusted data to weeks prior.
Regardless of the change in calculations, non-seasonally adjusted data shows overall claims rose last week to 833,352 from 825,761 the week before.
What’s next: The Labor Department will report jobs numbers for the month of August on Friday. The July report showed an overall unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, and while most economists expect that number to fall slightly in August, many expect the pace of job growth will slow down.
Original content by Politico.com – September 3, 2020.
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