Three million new claims for unemployment insurance last week.

Unemployment by Kevin Smith is licensed under CC BY 2.0

New unemployment claims for week ending 5/9/20 are just under three million, seasonally adjusted.

The tally of seasonally adjusted new claims is 36.5 million since the economy was put in an induced coma.


Weekly press release from the Department of labor: Unemployment insurance weekly claims

3/14/20 – Wall Street Journal – Nearly 3 Million Jobless Benefits Last Week – Seasonally adjusted new claims for unemployment were 2.981M in the week ending May 3. That brings cumulative new claims to around 36.5M.

This discussion will be posted on several of my blogs.

Summary of new claims and running total

Here is my running tally of the new unemployment claims.

For comparison top portion shows the new claims by week before the pandemic hit and the various governors decided to close the economy in their states. Then the weekly claims in millions and as a percentage of February civilian labor force is listed. Data for PUA is listed starting this week. More on PUA in a moment.

Subtotals are given for seasonally adjusted new claims and the new category I just learned about this week.

Bottom of the chart shows the total new claims and percent of February workforce. This is combined with the February unemployment number to develop my barely-educated guess at the total tally of lost jobs as of last week.

unemployed % of Feb PUA % of Feb
2/1/20           0.20
2/8/20           0.20
2/15/20           0.22
2/22/20           0.22
2/29/20           0.22
3/7/20           0.21
3/14/20           0.28
——  —-
3/21/20           3.31 2.0%
3/28/20           6.87 4.2%
4/4/20           6.62 4.0%
4/11/20           5.24 3.2%
4/18/20           4.44 2.7%
4/25/20           3.84 2.3%
earlier    1.60 1.0%
5/2/20           3.17 1.9%    0.96 0.6%
5/9/20           2.98 1.8%    0.84 0.5%
 —-  —-  —-  —-
shutdown subtotal        36.46 22.2%    3.40 2.1%
PUA          3.40   2.1%
 —-  —-
shutdown total        39.86 24.2%
unemployed in Feb.          5.70   3.5%
 —-  —-
estimated unemployed        45.56 27.7%
2/20 civilian labor force      164.54


Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

The Wall Street Journal article pointed me to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

The California Employment Development Division describes PUA as:

As part of the federal CARES Act, the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state UI benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic. The provisions of the program include:

That means people who previously were not eligible for unemployment, such as self-employed people or independent contractors, can now file. Individuals in that category, who are in also now out of work, are not included in the seasonally adjusted numbers in order to maintain consistency in those calculations. Since they are actually out of work and they are actually people, those amounts should be tracked.

The DoL press release for the week indicates there were 842K new claims under PUA with cumulative claims of 3,402K.  The Wall Street article says there are 1.8M claims in the last two weeks, which means there were about 0.96M new claims in the preceding week. There were around 1.60M claims in the previous weeks which I lumped into one line item above.

Horrifying grand total

If my methodology is vaguely correct, and a think it is, that puts the total number of people unemployed, including independent contractors and self-employed people at around 46 million. This is over one fourth of the civilian labor force back in February. My point estimate is just under 28%.

That is horrifying.

At the rate things are going right now that number is going to increase for a number of more weeks. That is simultaneously frightening and completely unnecessary. Time to open up the economy governors.

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