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First Cut: Unadjusted initial jobless claims nearly double in March 28 week

The unadjusted level of initial jobless claims essentially doubled in the week ended March 28 to 5,823,917 from 2,920,160 in the prior week. The number of claims blew past even the most pessimistic of forecasts in a market survey. I am focusing on unadjusted claims as seasonal adjustment factors are meaningless in the present circumstances.

The report said, “Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus. States continued to identify increases related to the services industries broadly, again led by accommodation and food services.” Other sectors were being added to the mix in the second week of extraordinary data. Claims numbers were estimated for California and Pennsylvania.

It is important to remember that these are filings for benefits, not that benefits have been granted. That is more visible in the continuing claims data, but with a one-week  lag.

Unadjusted continuing claims were up 1.309 million to 3.383 million in the March 21 week when the level was at 2.075 million. The unadjusted insured rate of unemployment was up to 2.3% in the week after 1.4% in the prior week.

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