The record-breaking spike in U.S. jobless claims data released on Thursday varied in its impact on American workers depending on state as governors across the country instituted different combinations of restrictions and closures to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
But the claims for state unemployment were most concentrated in Rhode Island, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington state with 63.6, 59.8, 57.9, 38.6, 34.2 and 33.7 claims per 1,000 workers, respectively. The data is for jobless filings through the end of last week.
In other words, those were the states the saw the most intense surges in claims when controlling for differences in the size of each state’s labor force.
Alaska, Illinois, Nebraska and Hawaii also saw some of the most concentrated bumps in unemployment filings, according to the unadjusted Labor Department data.
Looking at absolute unemployment unadjusted for state population, Pennsylvania came out on top with more than 378,000 workers filing for benefits, up 363,000 from the prior week’s print of just 15,439. That’s a more than 2,000% increase.
Ohio workers filing for state unemployment rose from 7,046 in the week ended March 14 to 187,784 in the week ended March 21, a surge of more than 180,000.
The U.S. Labor Department issued a special notice at the top of its release Thursday morning explaining the coronavirus’s impact on the jobless claims data.
“During the week ending March 21, the increase in initial claims are due to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts,” the government said.
“States continued to cite services industries broadly, particularly accommodation and food services,” the Labor Department added. “Additional industries heavily cited for the increases included the health care and social assistance, arts, entertainment and recreation, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing industries.”
The state-level data is likely to fluctuate in the weeks ahead as more people are laid off or statehouses roll back business restrictions and closures if they view the virus as receding.
Still, the headline jobless claims numbers set records for the single-largest number of American workers seeking unemployment benefits in a single week at an eye-popping 3.28 million.
The figure shattered the Great Recession peak of 665,000 in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982. The previous week, which ended March 14, reflected the period before the worst of the coronavirus hit and saw just 282,000 claims.
— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed reporting.
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