Granite Staters continue to return to work as jobless claims fall

Statistics return to a more normal level after last week’s blip

Unemployment ClaimThe latest figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that fewer Granite Staters were laid off during the last reporting week than before the pandemic hit, and New Hampshire has now reached a Covid era low.

Still, more than twice the number of people are claiming unemployment checks than before the virus infected the state’s economy.

At the end of the week that ended July 10, 521 people filed new unemployment claims, a 22% drop from the previous week, itself was 37% lower than the week before that. More important, the number of new filings is 66 fewer than the average 587 per week that were being filed at the start of 2020, before the economy shut down.

The decline in the number of continuing claims has been more consistent, except for last week’s report which showed a jump of more than 4,000, or 40%. Deputy Employment Security Commissioner Richard Lavers said at the time that the numbers were inflated, because the system was still counting claims for federal extended benefits, even though New Hampshire stopped participating in the federal program on June 19.

Lavers appears to have been correct, since this week’s report shows a decline nearly as large as the prior increase. There were 10,491 continuing claims filed in the week ending July 3, a drop of 3,682, or 26%.

Still, the average number of continuing claims before the pandemic hit was 4,163, less than half of that. In other words, some 6,000 people have to return to work before the employment system goes back to normal.

But that continuing claims number might still be inflated due to the statistical fog of ending those federal benefits, which not only included $300 weekly federal enhancement but expanded eligibility and extended duration.

Nationally, traditional new claims held steady at 373,000, as did continuing claims 3.34 million.

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