Key Highlights

  • Department of Labor changed how it adjusts jobless claims to account for seasonal variation this last week
  • Newest data is NOT apples-to-apples comparison
  • Without new adjustment, latest claims came in at +1M plus and with new adjustment, latest claims dropped to 881,000
  • Additional 759,000 filed for special Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that targets self-employment, independent contractors and gig workers

The latest unemployment data for the week of August 15 was just announced with numbers reflecting a new way to adjust claims that reflect seasonal variation. All the former sixteen weeks of unemployment data did not reflect this new adjustment.

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That being said, there really is no way to compare the former number of unemployment claims gathered over the last sixteen weeks of data collection to this latest compilation of unemployment claims. The New York Times said, ”…comparisons to previous announcements…need a flashing ‘WARNING’ signal.”

Bottom line, with the new adjustment being applied to this most recent reporting to account for seasonal variation, the latest number of new unemployment claims hit 881,000. Without the new adjustment to account for seasonal variation, the latest number of new unemployment claims passed last week’s number of approximately 1.1M to hit roughly 1.2M.

On top of that rough figure of 1.2M, an additional 759,000 people filed for unemployment benefits under the special Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program expressly designed for independent contractors, self-employed workers and full and part time gig workers. (These claims are not seasonally adjusted and never have been as this program was created in response to unemployment impacts due to the coronavirus.) These claims, like the “regular” unemployment claims, also increased from the previous week.

“Altogether,” said Gregory Daco, chief US economist with the forecasting firm Oxford Economics, you’re looking at 1.6M filing. It’s pretty bad at this stage in the crisis (and) I feel like this is a very fragile labor market at a critical juncture.”

The Department of Labor indicated that as of August 15, more than +29M jobless Americans were collecting some form of unemployment insurance. This total number of +29M was up more than +2M from the previous week.


Thanks to The New York Times and National Public Radio.

Also read: New Unemployment Claims Below 2M for First Time in 11 Weeks, 13th Straight Week of +1M Jobless Filings for Unemployment Benefits, 14th Consecutive Week Unemployment Claims Top 1M

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