Another 860,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

Another 860,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the...

Posted: Sep 17, 2020 10:43 AM
Updated: Sep 17, 2020 12:45 PM

Another 860,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

It was another week-on-week decline for jobless claims as the jobs recovery drags on, but the improvements have been slow and the jobs recovery is running out of steam. Weekly claims have improved since mid-August, when they briefly inched higher.

Despite the improvement, last week's claims were still about four-times higher than they were before the pandemic.

'That just tells you that the labor market has improved, but that it's a long way from maximum employment,' Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters during Wednesday's monetary policy update.

Continued jobless claims, counting workers who have filed for benefits for at least two weeks in a row, stood at 12.6 million, down significantly from the number in last week's report.

Worse still, these numbers don't include claims filed under the government's various other jobless aid programs, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits for those who aren't usually eligible, sucha as the self-employed.

Claims for PUA benefits stood at 658,737 last week, down from the prior week. It was their first week-on-week decrease since the start of August.

Adding PUA claims and not seasonally adjusted regular benefit claims together, first-time applications stood at 1.4 million in the week ending September 12 -- down from the week before.

Confusion about data accuracy

But just how many people are actually collecting unemployment benefits is unclear.

The flood of applicants spurred by the coronavirus shutdowns and the creation of the temporary pandemic unemployment assistance program left federal and state agencies struggling to provide reliable data. It took weeks for many out-of-work Americans to have their claims accepted, resulting in large backlogs that could skew the figures.

What's more, criminals swiftly sought to take advantage of the chaos and filed fraudulent claims, making it even more difficult to determine the true number of people in the unemployment system.

Some experts say there are fewer folks collecting benefits than the number listed in the report. They point to the PUA program as one source of the problem.

Part of the problem is that it took time to set up the new system and many of those eligible may not have initially realized they could apply. This left some people applying for multiple weeks of benefits at once, inflating the continued claims data.

'You are not counting actual people, you are counting the number of claims,' said Till von Wachter, director of the California Policy Lab, which is working with the state unemployment agency to analyze jobless data during the pandemic. 'And it's not necessarily the claims for that particular week.'

For example, the policy lab found that while there were roughly 3.5 million Californians who were receiving benefits in mid-August, the number of payments certified topped 6 million.

In the the Golden State, those in the regular state unemployment program have been certifying for roughly two weeks, on average, for most of this year, according to a recent report published the research organization. (California residents submit their certifications every two weeks, not weekly like in many other states.)

But those in the pandemic program had been certifying for about four weeks since June, and that figure spiked to more than eight weeks at the end of August.

The state recently revised its certification process for claimants in the pandemic program and stepped up its efforts to combat fraud.

Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly reported the number of jobless claims last week. It was 860,000.

Lafayette
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 38°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 29°
Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 38°
Danville
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 42°
Frankfort
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 34°
Frankfort
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 34°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 32°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 32°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 29°
Mild Conditions Continue Wednesday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

WLFI is promoting fire safety with FREE smoke detectors

 WLFI and several local fire departments are helping with your fire safety this winter. CLICK HERE. 

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 657037

Reported Deaths: 12450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion901321624
Lake48105871
Allen35552632
Hamilton31839393
St. Joseph29538510
Elkhart25261412
Vanderburgh21115377
Tippecanoe19765197
Johnson16242352
Porter15838267
Hendricks15723296
Clark11843179
Madison11672314
Vigo11503228
Monroe10248158
Delaware9788178
LaPorte9720194
Howard9017194
Kosciusko8514107
Bartholomew7373147
Warrick7369146
Hancock7362128
Floyd7139164
Wayne6586188
Grant6395157
Morgan6040124
Boone603388
Dubois5868111
Dearborn540266
Henry539492
Marshall5390104
Cass537199
Noble506775
Jackson462063
Shelby458490
Lawrence4154111
Gibson399681
Harrison395160
Clinton392353
DeKalb382078
Montgomery381583
Knox354484
Miami354063
Whitley346235
Huntington338176
Steuben335955
Wabash328775
Putnam325959
Ripley325161
Adams320249
Jasper312943
White295351
Jefferson292770
Daviess284296
Fayette270255
Decatur269388
Greene259978
Posey259731
Wells255374
Scott248446
LaGrange240170
Clay238944
Randolph225076
Spencer215830
Jennings213544
Washington207727
Sullivan202038
Fountain200341
Starke185950
Owen181652
Jay177328
Fulton176437
Carroll175618
Perry172435
Orange170450
Rush163922
Franklin158335
Vermillion158040
Tipton145441
Parke137915
Pike127232
Blackford120027
Pulaski105643
Newton96431
Brown94639
Benton91113
Crawford90113
Martin80114
Switzerland7507
Warren74612
Union66810
Ohio52711
Unassigned0425

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events