The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly report on jobless claims Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m., reporting that Massachusetts received 55,448 initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims during the week ended May 2. This brings the total of regular UI claims filed in Massachusetts since March 14, the beginning of the unemployment surge, to 781,110.
In addition to these regular unemployment claims, Massachusetts began taking claims on April 20 for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) authorized by Congress in its $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which extended eligibility to individuals who did not previously qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, including self-employed and contract workers in the so-called gig economy. From April 20 to May 2, there were “around 185,000 PUA claims” filed in Massachusetts, according to a press release issued by the Executive Office of Workforce Development yesterday.
In the seven weeks from March 15 to April 25, Massachusetts received a total of 966,110 claims for unemployment insurance, including UI and PUA claims. This constitutes 25.8 percent of the total Massachusetts civilian workforce on March 14, 2020.
Figure 1. Massachusetts Unemployment claims filed since March 14, 2020
|MA Civilian labor force March 14||3,740,602|
|Unemployed Individuals March 14||108,619|
|Initial UI Claims week ending March 21||148,452|
|Initial UI Claims week ending March 28||181,423|
|Initial UI Claims week ending April 4||139,647|
|Initial UI Claims week ending April 11||103,813|
|Initial UI Claims week ending April 18||80,969|
|Initial UI Claims week ending April 25||71,358|
|Initial UI Claims week ending May 2||55,448|
|Total Initial UI claims March 14 to May 2||781,110|
|Total Initial PUA claims March 14 to May 2||185,000|
|Total Initial UI and PUA claims April 19 to May 2||966,110|
|Total UI and PUA claims March 14 to May 2 as a percentage MA March 14 civilian workforce||25.8%|
At the national level, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that 3,169,000 seasonally-adjusted unemployment insurance (UI) claims were filed during the week ending May 2. This brings the total of regular UI claims filed since March 14, the beginning of the unemployment surge, to 33,483,000. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that a total of 1,364,565 claims were filed for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program within the past two weeks. This brings the number of unemployment claims filed in the U.S. during the past seven weeks to 34,847,565, representing 21.4 percent of the U.S. civilian workforce on March 14.
Figure 2. U.S. unemployment claims filed since March 14, 2020
|US Civilian labor force March 14||162,913,000|
|Unemployed Individuals March 14||6,194,000|
|Initial UI Claims week ending March 21||3,307,000|
|Initial UI Claims week ending March 28||6,867,000|
|Initial UI Claims week ending April 4||6,615,000|
|Initial UI Claims week ending April 11||5,237,000|
|Initial UI Claims week ending April 18||4,442,000|
|Initial UI Claims week ending April 25||3,846,000|
|Initial UI Claims week ending May 2||3,169,000|
|Total Initial UI claims March 14 to May 2||33,483,000|
|Initial PUA claims week ending April 25||780,866|
|Initial PUA claims week ending May 2||583,699|
|Total Initial PUA claims through May 2||1,364,565|
|Total UI and PUA claims March 14 to May 2||34,847,565|
|Total UI and PUA claims March 14 to May 2 as a percentage US March 14 civilian workforce||21.40%|
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) April unemployment report, which was released today, estimated that 14.7 percent of the nation’s workers are unemployed. The BLS unemployment report is based upon data from a survey that was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau during the week ended April 18. The 20-day lag in reporting will not reflect the fact that the U.S. received 7,015,000 initial unemployment claims since the survey was conducted three weeks ago. It is also unknown how many recent UI and PUA claimants may have given up on looking for a job, which would make them non-countable as unemployed individuals under the federal unemployment rate reporting methodology. In addition, it is difficult to estimate the real-time unemployment rate because it is currently unknown how many recent unemployment claimants may have returned to their old jobs due to the Payroll Protection Plan included in the $2.2 trillion federal CARES or otherwise become re-employed. According to a report written by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the official U.S. unemployment rate for April likely substantially understates job losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
Gregory W. Sullivan is the Research Director at the Pioneer Institute, overseeing the divisions PioneerPublic and PioneerOpportunity. He also previously served as Inspector General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for 10 years and in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 17 years. Mr. Sullivan has a Master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School at Harvard University and a second Master’s degree concentrating in finance from the Sloan School at MIT.