Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves numbers for unemployment claims dropping in huge numbers since the pandemic started.
New unemployment claims decreased by 111,000 last week, the biggest drop in new claims since August 2020.
730,000 new claims were filed for traditional unemployment insurance and an additional 451,000 claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, for gig and self employed workers. The total number of claims for all types of unemployment benefits was 19 million for the week ending February 6.
The decrease in the weekly claims was powered by large drops of about 50,000 in California and 45,000 in Ohio, two states with major problems with fraudulent filings. Economists have cautioned about reading too deeply into the weekly claims data, noting that unemployment insurance statistics have been distorted by the problems with fraud and other issues at state unemployment agencies.
There have been some positive signs in recent weeks, in addition to the drop in coronavirus cases. The monthly ISM index, a gauge of manufacturing strength, remains high. Retail sales increased 5.3 percent in January, surpassing lower expectations. And the housing market remains robust in many parts of the country.
M any economists are not expecting a broader pickup in the slumping labor market until later this year, as vaccinations power a potentially strong and lasting recovery. Congress continues to debate the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which would deliver more relief to unemployed workers, state and local governments, and schools, as well as $1,400 stimulus payments to most individuals.