New applications for unemployment insurance rose for the second straight week following the expiration of federal jobless aid, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.
Seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless aid totaled 351,000 in the week ending Sept. 18, a gain of 16,000 from the prior week. The total level of claims from the previous week was also revised up by 3,000, but the four-week moving average of claims ticked down by 750.
More than 11 million Americans lost federal unemployment aid after a number of pandemic programs expired on Sept. 6. President BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE, several moderate Democrats and nearly all Republicans supported the ending of the programs. Right-leaning economists also predicted that hiring troubles for many businesses would ease once the enhanced jobless aid was taken out of the picture.
While it could take several weeks to see the impact of the federal jobless aid expiration, two consecutive weeks of rising claims could be a sign of other factors slowing weighing on the labor market.
But analysts also said suspiciously steep jumps in claims from California (up 24,221 on the week) and Virginia (up 12,879) may be due to processing errors or backlogs.
"Unemployment claims rose again in the latest week, but given the volatility of the data, it’s too early to tell if layoffs are increasing due to factors such as the COVID-19 Delta wave. Unusually high layoffs in some states, particularly California, make the latest numbers particularly suspect,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.
Last week was also the survey period for the upcoming September jobs report, which will give a much deeper view into the health of the labor market.
Job growth fell sharply in August from a gain of more than 1 million in July to just 235,000 new jobs last month, largely due to the delta variant slowing activity in hard-hit sectors of the economy. The September jobs report will be one of the first indications of how persistent the delta slowdown could be and how many Americans who've lost jobless aid were able to find work after losing benefits.