Unemployment Claims Surge to a 20-Week High

  in   Insights

With a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and restored restrictions among states and local municipalities, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits soared last week, reaching the highest level since August. During the week-ending January 9 (the most recent reporting period), a total of 965,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s an increase of 181,000 filings from the previous week and is the most initial claims in a single week since the week-ending August 22. In total, unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic come to a whopping 74.8 million. Prior to the pandemic, weekly applications typically registered much lower, at around 225,000. While weekly claims are now significantly lower than the pandemic high of nearly 7 million filed during the last week of March after nationwide shutdowns took effect, the current numbers are still well above the pre-pandemic average. In fact, the pandemic-era low point (711,000 initial claims in the week-ending November 7), topped the nation’s highest historical point of pre-pandemic claims (695,000 initial claims in the week-ending October 2, 1982).