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First Cut: Unadjusted levels of initial jobless claims down for third week in a row, still huge

The unadjusted level of initial jobless claims fell 792,387 in the week ended April 25 to a still huge 3.489 million. Since the start of widespread business closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unadjusted number of claims has reached a cumulative 27.883 million.

I continue to use the unadjusted numbers in preference to the seasonally adjusted ones because there is no relation between normal patterns of layoff activity and present conditions. The Labor Department again said, “The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment.” Claims levels were estimated for Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.

The unadjusted rate of insured unemployment reached a fresh series high of 12.2% in the April 18 week. The unadjusted level of continuing claims  was up 1.499 million to 17.776 million, a high for this series as well.

Although the pace of filing for benefits has abated, the wave of approved claims has yet to crest. Even if activity starts to bounce back sooner rather than later, it will take time for levels of unemployment to return to something nearer normal for an economic downturn.

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