• Initial unemployment claims fell by 36,000 last week, but the number is skewed because California paused new claims to deal with organized fraud
  • Airlines are poised to lay off 40,000 workers with the expiration of government aid
  • The full September unemployment report is set for release Friday

Initial unemployment claims fell by 36,000 last week to 837,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday, as layoffs at airlines kicked in with the expiration of government aid. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the unemployment rate for the previous week at 8.1%.

The full September unemployment rate is set to be released Friday.

Airlines were poised to lay off 40,000 workers with the expiration of stimulus funds authorized by the CARES Act in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Talks between Democrats and the White House got underway this week but no real progress on the next round of coronavirus stimulus has been announced. Democrats have unveiled a $2.2 trillion measure but delayed a vote to allow talks to proceed.

“Today’s Labor Department report on unemployment claims underscores the urgent importance of legislation being pushed right now in the House of Representatives to aid millions of workers depending on unemployment assistance,” Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a leading unemployment expert, told International Business Times in an email.

Supplemental $600 weekly unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic expired July 31, and the $300 benefit President Donald Trump authorized by executive order also has run out in most states.

Stettner said data indicate new claims are being filed by people actually reopening their claims after initially be called back to work only to be laid off again.

“It’s important to note that the number of continued [pandemic unemployment assistance] claims came in at 11.8 million this week, but this is skewed by a two-week freeze in claims in California caused by the need for the Golden State to intercept organized fraud attacks. ... Moreover, large numbers of parents who can’t work because of child care requirements may be collecting [pandemic assistance] but don’t count as unemployed,” Stettner said.

Despite last week’s drop, Mark Hamrick, senior economist at, noted claims remain historically high 28 weeks into the pandemic. Bankrate estimated unemployment still will be around 7% next year.

“The pressure remains on elected officials in Washington to move forward on relief legislation to avert more substantial job losses as well as heightened financial pain on the part of unemployed and underemployed Americans. At issue is whether the just begun fourth quarter brings a measure of economic stability or greater pain,” Hamrick said in an email.

Initial jobless claims for the week that ended Sept. 19 were revised upward to 870,000 while the four-week moving average went down to 867,250. Nearly 11.8 million people claimed pandemic assistance, down from 12.6 million the preceding week. Fully 26.5 million people were collecting all forms of unemployment assistance for the week that ended Sept. 12 compared to 1.4 million in the comparable week last year.

The biggest increases in unemployment rates for the week that ended Sept. 12 were in Hawaii, California, Nevada, New York and Puerto Rico.

The biggest increases in claims for the week that ended Sept. 19 were in New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon while the largest decreases were reported in Maryland, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Louisiana.