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July 22, 2021 Reading Time: 2 minutes

Initial claims for regular state unemployment insurance totaled 419,000 for the week ending July 17, a rise of 51,000 from the previous week’s tally of 368,000 (see first chart). The revised results suggest weekly initial claims may be plateauing around the 400,000 level. Over the last six weeks, claims have averaged 395,833 with three above the average and three below, and a high of 419,000 and a low of 368,000.

The four-week average rose 750 to 385,250, the third increase in the past five weeks. However, the four-week average for initial claims came in below 400,000 for the sixth consecutive week. While labor shortages continue across many industries, labor force participation remains low making filling jobs more difficult. Furthermore, the Delta variant is raising concerns and boosting uncertainty.

The number of ongoing claims for state unemployment programs totaled 3.126 million for the week ending July 3, a drop of 114,711 from the prior week. The latest reading is the 15th consecutive week below 4 million (see second chart). However, the average decline over that period is just 63,003.

Continuing claims in all federal programs totaled 9.448 million for the week ending July 3, a decrease of 1,148,104. The latest result is the eighth consecutive week that Federal continuing claims have been below the 12 to 16 million range and the first time below 10 million since the initial surge in claims (see second chart).

The trends in Federal and state continuing claims put the total number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs, including all emergency programs, at 12.574 million for the week ended July 3, down 1,262,815 from the prior week. This is the tenth consecutive decline, the tenth consecutive week below 16 million, and the first week below 13 million since April 2020 (see second chart).

Robert Hughes

Bob Hughes

Robert Hughes joined AIER in 2013 following more than 25 years in economic and financial markets research on Wall Street. Bob was formerly the head of Global Equity Strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, where he developed equity investment strategy combining top-down macro analysis with bottom-up fundamentals.

Prior to BBH, Bob was a Senior Equity Strategist for State Street Global Markets, Senior Economic Strategist with Prudential Equity Group and Senior Economist and Financial Markets Analyst for Citicorp Investment Services. Bob has a MA in economics from Fordham University and a BS in business from Lehigh University.

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