Even though social distancing restrictions and improving weather are emerging the U.S. weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rose last week. Initial jobless claims remain well above the Great Recession-era high of 665,000 from 2009 (2019 levels for new claims averaged just over 200,000 per week).
Initial jobless claims for the week ending March 13: 770,000 (700,000 expected and week of March 6 revised upwards to 725,000)
Continuing claims for the week ending March 6: 4.124 million, a ninth straight week of declines (4.034 million expected)
President Joe Biden announced that states should make all citizens eligible for vaccinations by May 1.
"We expect jobless claims to continue to improve as the latest wave of the virus subsides and restrictions are lifted," Deutsche Bank economist Brett Ryan wrote in a note. "These data take on added significance as they correspond to the survey period for March employment, where we expect to see a notable pick up in hiring."
New weekly jobless claims rose by 21,000 in Texas, Illinois jumped by 17,000, while Ohio saw initial jobless claims fall by more than 14,000 last week.
Pennsylvania, Alaska and Nevada had the top three highest insured unemployment rates. Pennsylvania's insured unemployment rate was 6.1% for the week ended February 27 (latest data available). The insured unemployment rates in Alaska were 5.6% and 5.4% in Nevada (national insured unemployment rate of 2.9%).
As of late February, more than 18 million Americans were still claiming benefits across all programs. Of that number 12 million Americans were on either Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) (federal program offering benefits to gig workers and the self-employed) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) (additional weeks of federal benefits for people who exhausted their state benefits). Programs that do not traditionally exist (Both the PUA and PEUC were extended from mid-March until Sept. 6 in the latest $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package).