California weekly unemployment claims increased last week
New weekly unemployment claims in California increased last week compared with the week prior, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, as U.S. claims dropped for the fourth straight week.
New claims, a proxy for layoffs, rose to 75,520 in the week ending April 24, up from 72,875 the week before, the labor department said.
Last year at this time, there were 325,343 new claims in California in the early days of the pandemic when business closures led to furloughs and layoffs.
U.S. unemployment claims dropped to 553,000 last week, down 13,000 claims from 566,000 the week prior on a seasonally adjusted basis, a sign the speed of the country's economic recovery is picking up.
New claims have declined for four straight weeks after unexpectedly increasing in late March. Thursday's report also showed that initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a federal program that offers benefits to freelancers, contract workers and those who typically wouldn't qualify for benefits, also declined to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.
New U.S. claims peaked in the pandemic in early April last year with more than 6 million claims on a seasonally adjusted basis. Claims have slowly fallen since then, and now the four-week moving average is 611,750 claims as COVID-19 cases have dropped and restrictions on businesses continue to loosen.
Even though new jobless claims are still on par with some of the worst weeks of the 2009 recession, the recovery has accelerated in recent weeks, boosted by vaccines, falling case counts, better weather and stimulus checks, said Bill Adams, a senior economist with PNC.
Adams said even though new claims are high compared to pre-crisis standards, business surveys report difficulties with hiring.
“Lingering health concerns, child care problems and more generous unemployment benefits are making some workers reluctant to reenter the labor force,” he said.
But as the pandemic comes under control, all three of these factors will become less of an issue. He expects most workers sidelined by the pandemic will be employed again by the end of the year.
Virginia saw the largest percentage increase in weekly claims, with claims jumping by 212.5%.Wyoming, meanwhile, saw the largest percentage drop in new claims, with claims dropping by 47.4%.