Aug 14, 2020 - Economy & Business

Unemployment starts moving in the right direction

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits is finally coming down in a meaningful way and dropping across the board.

By the numbers: Claims for traditional initial jobless claims last week fell by more than 156,000 to 832,000 while initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program declined to below 500,000 for the first time since April 18.

  • PUA claims had reached more than 1 million for the week ending July 4.
  • Regular initial jobless claims remained below 1 million for the second week in a row after 19 straight weeks above 1 million.

The state of play: The number of people receiving unemployment benefits overall declined in almost every program, except the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Short-Term Compensation programs, which both saw increases.

  • The increases suggest a growing number of individuals who are not classified as unemployed are receiving benefits.

The big picture: Overall, 3.1 million fewer people were receiving jobless benefits for the week ending July 25 than the previous week.

  • That reversed the broader trend for July when first-time traditional jobless claims fell, but the number of people receiving money from all unemployment programs rose.

Watch this space: Gus Faucher, economist at PNC Financial, said the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits that expired at the end of July helped prop up outlays for many households. Without it, some consumers will likely cut back on their spending this month.

Of note: We use non-seasonally adjusted figures here at Axios Markets because seasonal adjustment since March is significantly distorting the data.

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