Weekly jobless claims released each Thursday have been above 1 million for 20 weeks in a row. We’re numb to it now, but it’s real and we must keep a close eye on where it might end. My two preferred tools for tracking this are FRED and McKinsey.
But before those links, consider this from Bank of America’s economics team:
The U.S. economy added 1.76 million jobs in July, bringing total job growth over the last three months to 9.3 million, recovering 42% of the jobs lost.
Great news, right? Not yet. There’s still 12.9 million people out of work due to the pandemic, and BofA offers this caution:
The jobs recovery thus far has exceeded expectations in terms of timing and magnitude, with every jobs report since May surpassing consensus forecasts. Despite these encouraging developments, we remain concerned about the path forward. The real-time high frequency labor data suggest a stalling out in labor conditions, which could put a damper on the August report. Moreover, there are potential risks given the linkages between industries as direct job losses in one area could lead to indirect job losses across the rest of the economy.
We’ve got a month until the next jobs report, so the weekly data are a good signal. There are several reports the wonks at BofA and others watch, but one of the quick, reliable weekly reports is jobless claims.
Within this, there are two things to watch: initial and continued jobless claims.
The best quick-reference resource for this is the Fed’s FRED database. Here’s the link to the FRED interactive jobless claims data, and below is a chart showing the 20 weeks over 1 million initial jobless claims.
This is updated every Thursday and is source material for everything about jobless claims that you read in the press.
Also, McKinsey’s interactive COVID jobs tracker is useful because it does initial and continuing claims by state in a very nice format (charts below).
The only shortcoming here that it seems to be about 2 weeks behind. Still it’s useful for drilling down to state levels easily. And you can also look at unemployment by county very easily and visually.
JOBLESS CLAIMS OVER 1 MILLION 20 STRAIGHT WEEKS
INITIAL JOBLESS CLAIMS BY STATE 6MO ENDED 7/18/20
CONTINUED JOBLESS CLAIMS BY STATE 6MO ENDED 7/18/20