Jobless claims rise in wake of Hurricane Ida

Jobless claims rise in wake of Hurricane Ida
© ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

New claims for unemployment insurance rose last week due largely to Hurricane Ida, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.

In the week ending Saturday, seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits totaled 332,000, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 310,000.

More than 7,600 new claims came from Louisiana, where Ida wrought the most damage, and claims were also higher in several other states hit hard by the storm as it traveled up the East Coast. Michigan also reported more than 5,300 new claims due largely to layoffs in the auto industry, which has had to scale back production amid a global semiconductor shortage.

“Claims in states impacted by Hurricane Ida contributed to the increase but the storm wasn’t solely responsible for the rise. We expect initial claims to resume their downward march toward pre-pandemic levels, but last week’s data reminds us there will be bumps along the way,” Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics wrote in an analysis.

Last week was also the first following the expiration of several pandemic unemployment aid programs established in March 2020, which had covered more than 11 million Americans before they lapsed Sept. 6. While the data released Thursday showed ongoing initial claims for some of those programs, they are likely due to backlogs or reporting delays.