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First Cut: Unadjusted filings for unemployment benefits declined in April 11 week

The unadjusted level of initial jobless claims was down 1.240 million to 4.972 million in the week ended April 11. New filings for unemployment benefits continued to flood in, but at a slightly slower pace. That does not mean that there cannot be another wave of filings the longer many businesses are forced to remain closed and employers cannot afford to retain workers. There may also be some lags as state agencies have to deal with unprecedented levels of filings.

The Labor Department again noted the impact of COVID-19 on the number of new and continuing claims. New claims were estimated for Alabama and Pennsylvania.

The seasonally adjusted insured rate of unemployment reached 8.2% in the week ended April 4, a new series high significantly above the 7.0% in May 1975. There was a series seasonally adjusted high of 11.976 million in the number of continuing claims. However, seasonal adjustment factors are meaningless in the present circumstances. Nonetheless, it is notable that the unadjusted data was also a series high. The insured rate of unemployment was 8.6% in the April 4 week and the level of continuing claims rose 4.358 million to 12.527 million. Some of this is simply that there are far more workers in the labor force than any time in the series’ histories, and therefore the sudden and rapid rise will as a consequence outstrip previous episodes of a downturn. This is not to diminish the severity of the present circumstances but to highlight that there is nothing to which to compare it.

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