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1.3 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week

Another 1.3 million people filed for first-time unemployment benefits, the 17th consecutive week with over one million claims. CNN's Christine Romans reports.

Posted: Jul 17, 2020 6:01 AM
Updated: Jul 17, 2020 6:01 AM

It's still not easy to remain employed in the US, nearly four months after the coronavirus pandemic began upending the economy.

Another 1.3 million people filed first-time jobless claims on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending July 11, according to the Department of Labor. That's down 10,000 from the prior week's revised level.

On an unadjusted basis, more than 1.5 million people filed first-time claims, up almost 109,000 from the week before. The seasonal adjustments are traditionally used to smooth out the data, but that has tended to have the opposite effect during the pandemic.

Weekly seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment applications have been on the decline for more than three months since their peak in the last week of March. But last week's drop was less than expected.

"Overall, filings remain high and are declining at a stubbornly slow pace," said Rubeela Farooqi, chief US economist for High Frequency Economics, noting that the risk of mounting permanent job losses is high. "The pace could slow even further or reverse in coming weeks in response to a surge in virus cases and related closures of businesses."

Continued claims, which count workers who have filed claims for at least two weeks in a row, stood at more than 17.3 million for the week ending July 4, down 422,000 from the prior week. These seasonally adjusted claims peaked in May at nearly 25 million.

On an unadjusted basis, however, continued claims rose by more than 838,000 to 17.3 million.

This was the first increase in both unadjusted initial and continued claims in several weeks, which concerned some economists.

"The rising UI claims add to the evidence that the recovery may be stalling and come at a critical juncture in the crisis as Covid-19 cases rise around the country and expanded unemployment benefits for Americans are set to expire," said Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao, noting that the additional $600 federal unemployment benefit ends later this month unless Congress opts to extend it.

"The risk of a surprise drop in employment in July is rising, pointing to a roller coaster recovery as the labor market starts to turn down again," Zhao added.

In addition to those filing for traditional unemployment claims, about 928,500 million people in 47 states filed for first-time pandemic unemployment assistance last week, down almost 118,000 from the week before. And almost 14.3 million people claimed continued pandemic benefits across 48 states for the week ending June 27. That's up nearly 406,000 from the prior week.

The pandemic program was created by Congress in March to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. It provides temporary benefits to workers who typically aren't eligible for payments, including freelancers, independent contractors, the self-employed and certain people affected by the coronavirus. It expires at the end of the year.

Looking at all workers participating in an array of unemployment programs, just over 32 million Americans claimed jobless benefits the week ending June 27, down about 433,000 from the prior week.

That total includes those in the traditional and pandemic unemployment programs, as well as the pandemic emergency unemployment compensation program, which has nearly 936,500 filers. Lawmakers created it in March to provide those who have exhausted their benefits with an additional 13 weeks of payments. It also expires at the end of 2020.

Federal spending on benefits soars

The federal government shelled out more than $80 billion in June to pay for Congress' historic enhancement to the nation's jobless program, bringing the total spent to nearly $171.5 billion this fiscal year, Treasury Department data shows.

In addition to the pandemic unemployment assistance program and the 13-week extension of benefits, lawmakers also boosted weekly benefits by $600, which the jobless receive in addition to their state payments.

States, meanwhile, delivered more than $35 billion in benefits last month, compared to about $4 billion in March. So far, they've spent more than $102 billion this fiscal year, according to the Treasury Department.

All told, government spending on unemployment benefits has soared to nearly $324 billion this fiscal year, as of July 14, with nearly $50 billion spent this month alone.

The crush of filers has taken a toll on states, draining their unemployment trust funds. Eight states have had to borrow a total of nearly $13 billion from the federal government to pay their share of jobless benefits, which typically last 26 weeks. The unemployed are guaranteed to receive their benefits, regardless of whether states have to borrow to pay them.

California had to ask for even more money from the Treasury Department this month after underestimating how much it would need. The Golden State now has authorization to borrow $7 billion this month, up from $4 billion.

More states are likely to turn to the federal government for loans in coming months, said Wayne Vroman, an associate at the Urban Institute. While companies have brought back millions of workers, the unemployment rate in June was 11.1%, the highest since World War II.

"The number of states that will borrow is just going to keep increasing," Vroman said.

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(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1187757

Reported Deaths: 22759
CountyCasesDeaths
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Kane50800717
Winnebago28351440
Madison28026455
St. Clair25497467
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Peoria16906262
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Kendall1107786
LaSalle10810219
Macon9461185
Vermilion8568116
DeKalb8276112
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Whiteside5930147
Boone592671
Clinton557189
Coles520391
Grundy512563
Ogle502173
Knox5018132
Jackson461160
Effingham449469
Macoupin435279
Henry433057
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Livingston420677
Franklin414666
Stephenson409875
Monroe406683
Jefferson3980115
Randolph396378
Woodford367960
Morgan358876
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Bureau330873
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Jersey249646
Douglas245033
McDonough232840
Lawrence230024
Saline229847
Union218537
Shelby214034
Crawford200723
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Cass189022
Pike169250
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Hancock167229
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White160925
Jo Daviess160522
Ford158745
Washington158423
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Edgar154337
Moultrie149424
Clay142941
Greene137932
Johnson134712
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De Witt128022
Mercer128033
Massac127233
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Menard10388
Marshall83915
Hamilton78815
Schuyler6775
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Brown6636
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Henderson49814
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Scott4491
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Hardin34512
Pope2823
Out of IL00
Unassigned02223

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 662213

Reported Deaths: 12595
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion907061645
Lake48425878
Allen35861636
Hamilton32099397
St. Joseph29996512
Elkhart25386415
Vanderburgh21247378
Tippecanoe20024201
Johnson16349360
Porter15975270
Hendricks15825300
Clark11965181
Madison11746318
Vigo11612229
Monroe10333161
Delaware9838179
LaPorte9772196
Howard9056197
Kosciusko8562110
Bartholomew7456147
Warrick7416151
Hancock7409131
Floyd7207169
Wayne6633191
Grant6427157
Morgan6092125
Boone609088
Dubois5910111
Dearborn547467
Cass544499
Marshall5425104
Henry542393
Noble509378
Jackson464767
Shelby460690
Lawrence4184112
Gibson401281
Harrison399864
Clinton395853
Montgomery387083
DeKalb385278
Knox357485
Miami357463
Whitley349436
Huntington344476
Steuben338355
Wabash331476
Putnam330559
Ripley327161
Adams323549
Jasper316143
White297352
Jefferson294973
Daviess285396
Fayette271956
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260931
Wells258275
Scott250350
Clay241444
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217330
Jennings215244
Washington211227
Sullivan203439
Fountain201542
Starke188151
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177828
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164822
Vermillion160542
Franklin159435
Tipton146441
Parke139316
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
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Benton92013
Crawford90713
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Ohio53711
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