New jobless claims ticked upwards last week, with 742,000 people filing for benefits while COVID-19 cases continued to accelerate in the U.S.
The increase for the week ending Nov. 14 is up 31,000 from the previous week's revised level, which was up by 2,000 for a total of 711,000, according to the weekly Bureau of Labor Statistics report released on Thursday (Nov. 19).
Although new jobless claims inched up — total claims for the week ending Oct. 31 were 20.3 million, a decrease of 841,245 from the previous week. And the numbers are much higher than normal. For instance, there were only 1.5 million people claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2019.
While a second wave of the coronavirus continues to slam the U.S. with a record-high infection rate, about 12 million jobless workers around the country are facing the prospect of losing unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. Another 4.6 million people are tracking to lose their Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits on Dec. 26, according to a study.
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Nov. 7 were in Washington (+7,683), California (+5,293), Massachusetts (+3,383), Alabama (+1,704) and Louisiana (+1,626), while the largest decreases were in Georgia (-13,426), Illinois (-6,357), Kentucky (-4,830), Texas (-3,934) and New Jersey (-3,725).