Unemployment claims fall as workers return or exhaust benefits

NH is either 3,000 or 10,000 workers away from pre-pandemic labor market
Virus Outbreak Unemployment New Hampshire

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The sudden rise of Covid-19 cases hasn’t yet effected the ongoing drop in unemployment claims, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor, Thursday morning.

Last week (ending July 24) there were 489 new jobless claims, 50 (or 9%) less than reported the previous week and nearly a hundred less than 587 New Hampshire was averaging before the pandemic infected the economy – so, not many layoffs.

There were 7,342 continuing claims filed on the week ending July 17, a drop of 18% following 17% decline before that. That means, two weeks ago, more than 1,600 people either went back to work or have exhausted their benefits.

Still, the average number of continued claims is now less than double – about one and three quarters to be more exact – than before the pandemic: 4,163. In other words, according to these figures, more than 3,000 people have to return to work before the employment situation goes back to normal.

But these figures don’t count those who are out of work and not eligible for unemployment, including the 10,000 people who were collecting based on expanded eligibility, or extended benefits, that were thrown off the rolls back in June.

Nationally, traditional new claims fell slightly by 3% to 400,000 and continuing claims held steady at 3.3 million.

On the other hand, newl federal claims increased by about 200,000 to 9.5 million. About half the states will continue nationally federal benefits until Labor Day, as allowed under the American Rescue Plan Act but – like NH Governor Chris Sununu – most Republican governors are cutting them off early, in an effort to push the unemployed back into the job market.