Initial Jobless Claims Fall to 787,000

U.S. initial claims for unemployment insurance fell in the week ended Oct. 17 to, declining 55,000 from the week prior to hit a seasonally adjusted 787,000, the Department of Labor reported Thursday (Oct. 22).

The total number of claims came in below the 800,000 Wall Street analysts had predicted, according to a Bloomberg survey. It’s also the eighth week in a row that claims came in below the 1 million mark. Prior to COVID-19, the record high of weekly jobless claims had been 695,000 in October 1982.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Oct. 10 were in California (+27,870), Illinois (+11,261), Massachusetts (+10,481), Georgia (+9,292), and Indiana (+7,840), while the largest decreases were in Michigan (-2,615), North Carolina (-2,362), Virginia (-1,733), Montana (-579), and Mississippi (-375).

Total claims in all programs ending Oct. 3 were down a little more than a million from the previous week, coming in at 23.2 million. But by way of comparison, the same week in  2019 had 1.43 million total claims for all programs.

Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com, said the numbers continue to look concerning despite the drop in initial claims.

“While we see welcome reported declines in the headline numbers of new claims for unemployment benefits as well as continuing claims reflecting activity administered by states, an additional 500,000 individuals are receiving assistance via the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program,” he said. “It is difficult to know exactly how many individuals are no longer qualifying for jobless aid, and how many are going back to work when looking at these numbers alone. What we can see is that there is a total of more than 23 million Americans receiving some form of assistance in the latest week.”