This statement was published in response to the April 29, 2021 release of jobs numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the most up-to-date data please visit TCF’s comprehensive UI data dashboard here.
Today’s unemployment report comes as President Biden reaches the 100-day milestone in his administration. In that time, new claims for jobless benefits have fallen by nearly half (44 percent)—from 1.23 million per week to 697,000. During the week ending April 24, new claims for state benefits (575,500, down 9.5k NSA) and PUA benefits (122,000, down 11.6k) both declined for the third consecutive week, reaching another pandemic low.
New claims for benefits are not the only indicator that has improved during President Biden’s first 100 days. Continuing claims also declined for the sixth straight week on an NSA basis (they were up by 9,000 SA), as the number of workers flowing into aid programs has slowed considerably. Yet continuing claims are still higher now than they were at any time between November 2011 and February 2020, so this is still a very serious level of economic stress.
Unlike state benefits, PUA and PEUC have remained elevated for most of 2021. However, PUA claims appear to finally be headed on a downward trajectory after dropping for the second straight week, and are now 17 percent percent lower than the 8.4 million peak reached in mid-February. PEUC claims (now at 5.2 million) remain higher than at the beginning of the year, as these figures represent workers displaced from jobs like tourism that will be among the last to recover.
When pandemic benefits are included, there are still 16.6 million workers collecting unemployment aid—underscoring the huge gulf between the fast, promising economic start of 2021 and a full economic recovery. The American Families Plan released yesterday represents another action that would speed our recovery by ensuring that workers have access to the child care they need to hold down a job. Moreover, the plan calls on Congress to reform the underlying unemployment program to provide adequate, timely, and automatic triggers that the program badly lacked going into the pandemic.