Jobless claims: the beginning of a pandemic reversal?

Jobless claims: the beginning of a pandemic reversal?


This week’s new jobless claims rose from last week’s pandemic lows, while continued jobless claims again declined to new pandemic lows.

On an unadjusted basis, new jobless claims rose by 18,264 to 743,460. Seasonally adjusted claims rose by 31,000 to 742,000. The 4 week moving average, however, declined by 13,750 to 742,000. Here is the close up since the end of July (for comparison, remember that these numbers were in the range of 5 to 7 million at their worst in early April):

Unadjusted continuing claims (which lag initial claims typically by a few weeks to several months) declined by 419,670 to 6,081,402. With seasonal adjustment they declined by 429,000 to 6,372,000, both new pandemic lows:

New jobless claims have declined about 88% (unadjusted) or 90% (seasonally adjusted)  from their March and April pandemic highs. But the seasonally adjusted numbers are still about 100,000 higher than their worst readings of the Great Recession:

Meanwhile, continued claims are about 71.5% (unadjusted) to 75% (seasonally adjusted) below their May pandemic highs:

After 7 months, at last, both of these are slightly lower than their worst levels of the Great Recession (faint praise, I know).

Whether one week ago will mark an interim low, due to the pandemic spiraling out of control again in most of the country, or just noise in a continued very slow decline, is impossible to know. But I do suspect, if a reversal hasn’t already started to happen, it will within the next few weeks, especially as State governments are reluctantly placing renewed restrictions on social business activity.