Applications for new United States unemployment benefits grew in the middle of February to the highest in four weeks to 861,000. This shows that Americans are still losing many jobs over a year after the beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The initial claims field through the states rose by 13,000 to hit that 861,000 for the seven days ended on February 13th. To make things worse, claims from two weeks ago were adjusted up from 793,000 to 848,000.
These sharply revised estimates by the government of new claims for two weeks in a row has been an unusual move during the pandemic reflects the struggles by the states to push applications for unemployment benefits through their systems. The weekly report will be made less reliable on the labor market because of this. Economists expected that the new claims would fall to about 770,000.
On the federal level benefits through the temporary federal relief program added another $516,299 first time applicants. This puts the total applications between state and federal programs to total 1.38 million first time applications based on the figures given. Claims from combined state and federal programs had not fallen below one million per week since May of 2020. Before the pandemic started the calsim numbers were averaging in the low 200,000’s and had never once been above 695,000 during a single week.
States that saw the biggest rise in new applications were Illinois, California, and Virginia. Meanwhile the largest declines came from Texas and Georgia. The total number of people collecting state unemployment benefits however fell by 64,000 to 4.49 million on a two week delay. But there have been an additional 4.06 million who have officially exhausted their state unemployment systems and are on a federal program.
Combined, the total number of people who are reported to be receiving total benefits between eight separate programs at the state or federal level is an unadjusted 18.3 million, which is a 1.3 million decrease from the previous week. Again, these numbers are much higher than before the pandemic, when fewer than 2 million total people were collecting benefits.
Until these past two weeks the jobless claims report has been able to correctly reflect the increase or decrease of unemployment during the pandemic. Recently the government found that the distinct number of people who had been applying for and collecting benefits was inflated by fraud, double counting, or other minor issues.