Unemployment Claims Take a Slight Climb

The number of American workers seeking first-time unemployment benefits last week reached some 1.4 million, a slight uptick from the previous week that represents the first jump in several months.

The 1.4 million filings in the week ending July 18 is about 109,000 than the previous week, the first rise after 15 consecutive weeks of falling numbers, according to statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

California continues to report the highest number of first-time claims and the highest increase. Numbers worth noting include:

  • California had 292,673 first-time claims, up some 7,800.
  • Georgia had 120, 281 claims, down more than 18,000.
  • Florida workers filed 105,410 claims, down more than 27,000.
  • New York had 88,260 claims, down about 3,200.
  • Texas, at 86,821 claims, had dropped nearly 19,000.

Many other states showed significant declines:

  • New Jersey dropped by more than 13,000 claims.
  • Washington’s claims fell by nearly 11,000.
  • Indiana’s claims fell by some 10,000.
  • Indiana and Michigan both had some 6,000 fewer claims.

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Meanwhile, some 13 million people continue to claim unemployment under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that went into effect in March. The PUA program provides assistance to workers previously not eligible for unemployment.

But that $600 weekly benefit expires July 31, and Congress hasn’t yet acted on any sort of extension. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was reportedly ready to unveil the Senate’s latest coronavirus relief package, and it was expected to address the issue.

Some speculation was that the benefit would be extended, but only at $200 per week.

NBC News reported there is “consensus in Washington” that federal unemployment assistance needs to be continued, but there are differences over how it should be structured.

“Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is expiring and we need to respond to that,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC in an interview on Thursday morning. “We won’t pay people more to stay at home than to work, but people who can’t find jobs will get approximately 70 percent wage replacement.”