Unemployment Claims Rise for the First Time in 4 Months


Initial unemployment claims rose for the first time since March 28

Job Warning Lights Flashing

Leading claims data flashed a huge warning sign about jobs today.

Initial claims rose from 1.307 million to 1.416 million, an increase of 109,000. This was the first rise in 16 weeks, a signal that the jobs recovery may be over. 

Continued State Claims

Continued State Unemployment Claims in 2020 July 23 Report

Note: My Initial Claims and Continued Claims charts are Seasonally-Adjusted. The following PUA and Totals are NOT Seasonally-Adjusted.

Four Continued Claim Factors

  1. Continued claims lag initial claims by a week. 
  2. People can find a job and drop off the unemployment rolls. 
  3. People can expire their benefits and drop off the rolls.
  4. People can retire and drop off the rolls.

We are not yet at the point where state benefits have expired according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as explained below,

Unemployment Compensation Basics

  • Workers in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from the regular state-funded unemployment compensation program,
  • Six states provide fewer weeks and one provides more.
  • Under the CARES Act responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, all states provide 13 additional weeks of federally funded Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) benefits to people who exhaust their regular state benefits.
  • There are additional weeks of federally funded EB in states with high unemployment (up to 13 or 20 weeks depending on state laws). 
  • The maximum weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for exhaustees equals 39 minus the number of weeks of regular UI and Extended Benefits (EB) received. 
  • No PEUC or PUA is available after December 31, 2020.

State Exceptions

  • Massachusetts provides up to 30 weeks of UI except when a federal extended benefits program is in place (as it is now) or in periods of low unemployment (as was the case through February), when the maximum drops to 26 weeks.
  • Montana provides up to 28 weeks of UI.
  • Michigan normally provides up to 20 weeks of UI, but in the COVID-19 emergency that has risen to 26 weeks.
  • South Carolina and Missouri provide up to 20 weeks of UI.
  • Arkansas provides up to 16 weeks of regular benefits.
  • Kansas was providing 16 weeks of UI before COVID-19, but that has been extended to 26 weeks through April 2021;
  • Alabama currently provides up to 14 weeks of UI for new enrollees, with an additional five-week extension for those enrolled in a state-approved training program;
  • Georgia was providing 14 weeks of UI, but in the COVID-19 emergency that has risen to 26 weeks;
  • Florida currently provides up to 12 weeks of UI; and
  • North Carolina currently provides up to 12 weeks of UI.

Nearly all of the improvement in continued claims is due to people finding jobs but people may have dropped off the rolls in Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia.

State Claims Provide Incomplete Picture

State claims do not provide a complete picture because many people, are not eligible for unemployment insurance. 

For example, self-employed are not eligible for state unemployment insurance even though they pay into the system.

The self-employed and small businesses were eligible for loans that in some conditions will not have to be paid back. The self-employed are also eligible for 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) but that may have expired.

Primary PUA Claims

Primary PUA Claims in 2020 July 23 Report

Primary PUA covers those who are not eligible to make state claims. The report lags initial claims by 2 weeks and continued claims by 1 week.

Based on state initial claims and state reopenings in reverse, I expect this number to jump in the weeks ahead.

All Continued Claims

All Continued Claims in 2020 July 23 Report

All continued claims is the sum of state continued claims plus PUA claims and all other Federal programs.

All claims have topped 29 million for two months. There was little improvement in the current report. 

Nearly 32 million people are collecting some form of unemployment insurance and as noted above I expect the number to rise.

Federal Cutbacks

Based on all continued claims, over 30 million are on the last week of the expanded federal unemployment benefits. 

Everyone in any unemployment program gets a weekly check of $600. Unless Congress acts soon, these $600 supplemental checks end and persons only receive state unemployment benefits which average $378 per week or primary PUA coverage which is even less, especially for those working part-time.

If not extended, this will be a big hit to the incomes of millions. 

Republicans, especially Trump, do not want to extend this benefit because many make more being unemployed than they did working. 

Instead, Trump proposes a payroll tax cut (see point 3 below), but that is useless for those out of a job, and Republicans are balking at that too.

Related Articles

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  3. Trump's Payroll Tax Cut and the Arrogance of "Find Something New"
  4. Georgia's Covid Improvement was a Big Lie by the Governor
  5. Housing Starts and Permits Improve But Not Enough

Unprecedented Recession Synchronization and What it Means

In case you missed it, please see Unprecedented Recession Synchronization and What it Means.


Comments (38)
No. 1-12

The government programs only delayed layoffs and that time is running out unless extended. I know several f100 firms in the process of releasing thousands of people over the next few months. The number will only get worse with corona running wild right now and the current inept administration.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

For context

Last go round initial claims PEAKED at 665K (March 2009).

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

"All claims have topped 29 million for two months. There was little improvement in the current report."


Despite massive propping by fedgov to keep lid on things.

US Treasury MONTHLY deficits

April ... $738 billion
May ... $399 billion
June ... $864 billion



When Governors (like CA's Newsom) close down businesses as they fight to contain an uncontainable virus, unemployment increases. D'oh.


"State claims do not provide a complete picture because many people, are not eligible for unemployment insurance.

For example, self-employed are not eligible for state unemployment insurance even though they pay into the system."

Unsure that this is true in any or all states. If you are an IC you do not have to pay unemployment tax on yourself, since you are not eligible to collect unemployment (at least in CA)


This is the next shoe to drop that will further bump up unemployment. It's hard to work living in a tent or your car.

JULY 23, 2020 / 4:08 AM
U.S. eviction bans are ending. That could worsen the spread of coronavirus


Off topic again but related.

In Spain tourism is still way low and already Spain is being considered for removal from safe travel lists. In Madrid they are being asked not to travel to other regions because of an outbreak starting there, but the main region with rapidly increasing infections is Cataluña. No one seems to know who is in charge there, various authorities do or don't want to/want others to make decisions, partly for political reasons. So you have the Catalan authorities previously trying to install lockdown, which was refused by the courts, but not obligatory measures were allowed, but local population does not obey, but Spanish government is informally asking Cataluña to close its border now, while france is talking of closing the border to Spain. Add to this that they are only catching a small fraction of those who fly in with the virus with the rest found after symptoms, various outbreaks are tied to foreigners or migrants (who recently rioted in one place over quarantine). The number of tests carried out in Spain has dipped from the previous epidemic highs, only to increase gradually again, not sure if numbers follow tests or viceversa, expect something of both. A lot of talk over what happens with schooling in September, some have said via official contacts that country goes back into lockdown in September. Might well do so before, at this rate.

Italy also is seeing outbreaks in Rome, might lockdown that province again.

Portugal continues with low background of infections, mostly around Lisbon. Hopefully tourism and travel won't set off a large outbreak, cannot say though.


Look out below... here comes the other shoe!


32 million on UE. That's all you need to know.


"This is the greatest (un)employment market ever."


So has anyone modelled what would happen if coronavirus is with us through all of 2020? 2021? 2022? Forever? There were many bad assumptions that this thing would be gone by the spring, then summer and now what fall? Winter? We are 8 months in and things are out of control in many parts of US and flare ups around the world. I can only imagine 10x worse if schools forced to open.

And it isnt just people being kicked out of apartments and homes, the whole food supply chain can crumble if things dont get fixed soon.


The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC) provides an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting regular unemployment compensation, not the $600 per month that the article mentions.

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