Unemployment Claim Progress Slows to a Crawl

Progress in initial and continued state unemployment claims is minimal. All continued claims rose has worsened for three weeks.
Comments (13)
No. 1-6

Mish, it’s worth noting that states automatically put you in PEUC when you’ve exhausted your state claim. If you exhaust PEUC, then you can be placed in PUA. PEUC is federal but missing from your data.


"Either there is massive pandemic claims fraud, massive unemployment undercounting by the BLS, or both."

Yeah, probably both.......and with the Congress getting comfortable again with the typical Republican austerity agenda...I look for things to get much worse in the short run. Frankly I'm surprised the pandemic relief effort was so bipartisan in the first place. I think whatever our fearless leaders were led to believe back in March and April scared them into temporary sanity.

After watching for many years, it looks to me like most of the elected leadership does exactly what the GS alumni running the Treasury tell them to do. The Congress-persons themselves don't understand how money works, or when a stimulus would be beneficial or necessary...or when it wouldn't.

And anytime they do legislate a bail-out, the lions share always goes to insiders, big business, and the Mnuchins of the world (you'll remember that he made out very well in the 2008 bailout personally..and I expect he is going to make money off the pandemic.)


46 days till election. Do you know where your next paycheck will come from?


This is a test comment.


Here in Frankenmuth, MI which is one of Michigan's largest tourist towns, every business has a help wanted sign out. Albeit they are mostly entry level jobs the truth is people on PUA or unemployment are staying put knowing the government will soon release a lucrative raise to there weekly benefit check. I don't see a end to this until the gravy train derails.



Initial Claims

For August 29, September 5, and September 12,  there were 884,000, 893,000, and 860,000 seasonally-adjusted claims respectively according to the Department of Labor.

Given margins of error on seasonal adjustment there has been no progress for three weeks.

Continued Claims

Continued State Unemployment Claims in 2020  Sepotember 17  Report

Continued claims lag initial claims by a week. 

For August 22, August 29, and September 5, there were 13,292,000, 13,554,000, and 12,628,000 seasonally-adjusted claims respectively.

That's modest but choppy progress. The downward slope (pace of progress) has not changed since May. At the same pace of progress, continued claims will be above 10 million for 2 more months.

It's continued state claims that determine the official unemployment rate, not that anyone of intelligence believes the BLS number.

The reference week for the unemployment report is the week that contains the 13th of the month. That week is the week ending August 15. 

For August 15, there were 14,492,000 continued claims. Yet the BLS reported said there were 13,550,000 unemployed in August.

Questioning the BLS Unemployment Rate

I scream BS. 

Primary PUA Claims In Reverse

Primary PUA Claims in 2020  September 17 Report

Primary PUA claims are not seasonally adjusted. They lag initial claims by two weeks and continued claims by a week. 

PUA claims are essentially in reverse. 

Unlike state claims, PUA claims cover part-time workers. 

They also cover truly unemployed workers not eligible for state claims. People in this category include the self-employed, various gig workers, and anyone who exhausted state benefits.

This is where claims of double-counting come in. But there is no double-counting. One either applies for state benefits or Federal PUA, not both.

Although there is no double-counting, there is overlap. Part-time workers are considered employed. 

But some number of those 14.467 million workers are genuinely unemployed. I suspect 3 million at a minimum. But they never show up in the unemployment numbers. 

Heck, not even continued claims show up in the BLS numbers.

All Continued Claims

All Continued Claims in 2020 September 17 Report

All Continued Claims, like Primary PUA claims, are not seasonally adjusted. They also lag initial claims by two weeks and continued claims by a week. 

All continued claims have been in reverse for three week. The total for the latest week, August 29, is 29.7 million. This should realistically feed the U-6 unemployment rate but it does not come close. 

Lost Pandemic Benefits

Pandemic benefits expired on July 25. Everyone in any program received $600 weekly benefits.

The average number of All Continued Claims since July 25 is 28.668 million. 

Lost  pandemic benefits = 28.668 million *  $600 per week * 8 weeks = $137.6 billion.

That's money that would have been sent but wasn't.

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Either there is massive pandemic claims fraud, massive unemployment undercounting by the BLS, or both.

The above articles, especially #1 and #4 suggest huge undercounting by the BLS, possibly accompanied by massive fraud as well. 

I suspect both.