Initial Claims for Unemployment Benefits Surge to 965,000

by Robert Hughes
The American Institute for Economic Research

Initial claims for regular state unemployment insurance totaled 965,000 for the week ending January 9, up 181,000 from the previous week’s revised tally of 787,000 (see first chart). Claims have been in the 700,000 to 1 million range for 20 consecutive weeks after hitting a peak of 6.9 million in March. The four-week average was 834,250, up 18,250 from the prior average. The four-week average has been between 740,000 and 840,000 for 15 consecutive weeks. Prior to the lockdowns, initial claims averaged 212,000 over the first 10 weeks of 2020. Persistent initial claims at such a historically high level remain a threat for the labor market recovery and the economy (see first chart).

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