The spread of the coronavirus across the South and Southwest and into the Plains became apparent in states with statistically significant increases in initial jobless claims during the week ending July 11.
The weekly initial jobless claims suggest a pause in the improvement in labor market conditions.
It is difficult to assess trends in weekly jobless claims because of the scattershot nature of processing large numbers of applicants for unemployment benefits. But the data released by the Labor Department on Thursday and the map below nevertheless suggest a pause in the improvement in labor market conditions that occurred as local economies were reopened and social distancing practices were relaxed.
Given the lag in reporting, we can anticipate increases in jobless claims to continue in the coming weeks, following the lead of the spread of the virus.
The figures below provide a synopsis of the damage to the workforce and the increased need for social services and monetary support in the coming months.
The map below shows three numbers below the state name:
- The cumulative number of initial unemployment claims since March 7, the week before the effect of shutdowns began in earnest.
- The latest increase (decrease) in the number of claims.
- The Z-score of the latest increase (decrease) in claims, which is the number of standard deviations above (below) the pre-coronavirus average.
The first number indicates the depth of the impact of the virus on the labor force.
The second number indicates the direction of the claims (i.e., a first derivative of sorts): positive numbers indicate an increase in claims and labor market distress; positive numbers approaching zero indicate the deceleration in new filings; zero would suggest a plateauing of claims; while negative numbers are an indication that businesses and employees are returning toward normal levels of claims. Negative changes in claims should be viewed relative to the cumulative number of claims.
The third number shows the degree of the shock, with Z-scores outside the range of plus-or-minus two standard deviations considered to be outside of normal occurrences.
For more information on how the coronavirus is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.