Initial claims for regular state unemployment insurance totaled 719,000 for the week ending March 27, up 61,000 from the previous week’s downwardly revised tally of 658,000, the lowest of the pandemic (see first chart). Despite the uptick, the outlook for jobs and the economy has been improving as government restrictions on consumers and businesses continue to be lifted.
The four-week average fell 10,500 to 719,000, the lowest level since March 14. While the four-week average remains in the 700,000 to 900,000 range, there is a clear trend lower and it is likely to continue trending lower as the combination of vaccine distribution and easing government restrictions on consumers and businesses slowly push the economy closer to normal operation. However, significant damage has been done by the lockdowns and full recovery is likely several quarters away.
The number of ongoing claims for state unemployment programs totaled 4.200 million for the week ending March 13, down 258,770 from the prior week. Continuing claims for state programs remain in the 4 to 6 million range but have been trending lower over the last two-and-a-half months (see second chart).
Continuing claims in all federal programs rose sharply in the latest week, coming in at 14.013 million for the week ending March 13, a drop of 1.259 million (see second chart). Since the beginning of June 2020, continuing claims in all Federal programs have been in the 12 to 16 million range, averaging 14.081 million.
The total number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs including all emergency programs was 18.214 million for the week ended March 13, down 1.518 million from the prior week. Total claims have been in the 16 to 20 million range since November (see second chart).