This statement was published in response to the July 8, 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 caps a week of positive signs for the nation’s labor market recovery. New claims for unemployment benefits continued to drop, coming in below 500,000 for the third consecutive week, with 370,000 new claims for state benefits (up 3,000 NSA) and 99,000 for PUA (down 15,000). This encouraging downward trend comes on the heels of a June jobs report that showed the best one-month job growth since August 2020, as well as a report released just yesterday showing that the number of open jobs in May was declining.
Unfortunately, governors across the country overreacted to a perfectly understandable pace for a labor market recovery of this magnitude. Rather than maintain jobless benefits that were helping—not hurting—the job match process, conservative governors chose instead to rip the carpet from beneath those in need. The move was as callous and shortsighted then as it is now: today’s data indicate that the elimination of the $300 federal supplement has had little influence on whether or not individuals claim state jobless benefits. In the week ending June 19, claims for state benefits in the 12 states without the $300 top-off were actually up by an average of 16 percent in one week, while in the 39 states that kept the federal supplement in effect, claims decreased by an average of 2 percent.
Many states are also completely eliminating PUA and PEUC, with Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, and Missouri all reporting zero continued claims for these two pandemic programs as of June 12. These premature cut-offs account for 170,000 of the 446,000 decline in the number of workers making a continued claim for UI benefits. This includes 3.24 million on state benefits (down 49,000 last week), 5.8 million on PUA (down 111,000 last week), and 4.9 million on PEUC (down 354,000 last week). In the coming weeks, PUA and PEUC totals could fall by as many as two million workers, as more states kick their residents off the unemployment rolls regardless of whether or not they have yet to find a job.
There are, however, signs of hope for workers living in states that are set to eliminate jobless aid, as judges in Indiana and Maryland have issued emergency rulings blocking the early termination of benefits in their states, following lawsuits from unemployed workers. It’s now time for the Biden administration to step in and find a way to get benefits quickly reactivated in these states and others, like Ohio, that are following their neighbors into court.