Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 25.5 million people were collecting unemployment benefits as of mid-September, and nearly 1.3 million people filed first-time jobless claims last week — more than 800,000 for traditional unemployment and 464,000 for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

The state of play: That number excluded any new claims from the largest state in the country, California, which paused its program to implement fraud prevention technology and comb through a backlog of claims that had reached nearly 600,000 and was growing by 10,000 a day.

The big picture: California isn't the only place where issues with unemployment claims are rising.

  • The persistently high number of claims drive an uneasy contrast with the continued decline in the unemployment rate and improving numbers on the Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey to the point that University of Oregon economist Tim Duy says, "We should be more skeptical about the initial claims data."
  • "The claims data lets you view the current environment as a repeat of the last recovery," Duy writes in his Fed Watch blog.
  • "If the claims data is deeply corrupted, the conventional wisdom is just plain wrong. I keep saying the same thing: This isn’t the 2007-09 recession or the 2009-2020 recovery. It’s something different."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 23, 2020 - Economy & Business

Recent arrests suggest massive fraud in California's unemployment system

A person waits outside a closed office of California's Employment Development Department. Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Fraud in California's Employment Development Department (EDD) was so rampant and seemingly easy to exploit that one Los Angeles rapper was arrested recently after making a song and video about doing it.

What's happening: In a historic example of snitching on oneself in an effort to clout chase, rapper Fontrell Antonio Baines, aka Nuke Bizzle, describes how easy it is to get "rich off of EDD" in a music video posted to YouTube titled "EDD."

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
20 mins ago - Sports

Locker Room wants to reinvent how fans talk sports

Courtesy: Betty Labs

Locker Room, a social audio app where fans can talk sports and spontaneously join live conversations, launches Tuesday on the App Store.

The state of play: The company behind Locker Room, Betty Labs, has raised $9.3 million in seed funding led by Google Ventures with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Axios has learned.

Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse. The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals. 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.