New filings for jobless claims showed little change for the week ending Nov. 13 with a decrease of 1,000 from the prior week to 268,000, according to data from the Labor Department released on Tuesday.
The steady weekly declines in new claims in early October have slowed significantly in the first two weeks of November. The most recent data, though, included Veterans Day, which tends to add volatility to the weekly number.
At the current pace, it is unlikely that initial jobless claims will soon reach the pre-pandemic level of 212,000 from March 7, 2020, although last week’s figure was the lowest since March 14, 2020, when it was 256,000.
As most of the labor headwinds have subsided, there is plenty of room for jobless benefit claims to improve in the last two months of the year.
There is plenty of room for jobless claims to improve in the last two months of the year.
The tight labor market will not be resolved anytime soon as job openings—a proxy for labor demand—remain robust. Shortages of labor have forced businesses to retain their workers at a much higher rate, effectively slowing down layoffs.
Our preferred measure of initial jobless claims—the 13-week moving average—continued to trend downward from 319,000 to 313,000 for the week ending Nov. 13.
The total number of continuing claims for all programs advanced to 3.2 million for the week ending Oct. 30, a sharp rise of 618,804 from the previous week.
The main contributor to the increase were filings for the two federal pandemic-enhanced unemployment programs: The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs were up by 537,467 and 16,478, respectively. Since both programs expired in early September, these were part of a backlog in claims that had not been processed before the expiration date.
For regular state benefit programs, continuing claims also increased to 3.2 million for the week ending Oct. 30 compared to 2.6 million in the previous week.
For the second week in a row, Kentucky recorded the highest increase in initial jobless claims, rising by 6,716 for the week ending Nov. 6, followed by Ohio, with 3,846 new claims. The largest decreases were in California, down by 4,222, and the District of Columbia, down by 1,794.