About the Data

The primary source of these data are reports by the states submitted to the U.S. Departments of Labor and of the U.S. Treasury. We invite comments and corrections but  but users should not expect that data is corrected from any errors of submissions, such as double counting or zeroes. Weekly claims data will be updated on Thursday each week, and monthly data will be updated by the end of the following month (for instance, August data will be up by the end of September).


  • “State” vs. “Federal”: State claims refer to the permanent basic package of up to twenty-six weeks of unemployment available to regular workers in taxable employment. Federal programs cover those not eligible currently for state benefits either because they are long-term unemployed or because they are independent contractors, or did not earn enough to collect state UI. State benefits are paid for through state payroll taxes, and federal benefits are paid for through state taxes.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): CARES Act program that expanded states’ ability to provide unemployment insurance for many workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including for workers who are not ordinarily eligible for unemployment benefits, including independent contractors, self-employed, students and youth, and others who may be unable to prove prior-year income. The program is federally funded, but applicants apply through state systems where eligibility is determined. Read more here.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): CARES Act program that extends eligibility for unemployment benefits by up to thirteen weeks for anyone who exhausts their state-level maximum week benefit. Read more here.
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): CARES Act program that automatically provides an additional $600 in federally funded benefits per week, applied to all weekly benefits (regular and PUA), from the week ending April 4, 2020 through the week ending July 25, 2020.
  • Worksharing: Worksharing, also known as short-time compensation (STC), allows employers to reduce hours of work for employees rather than laying off workers. Employees experiencing a reduction in hours are allowed to collect a percentage of their unemployment compensation benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. Read more here.
  • Initial claims: New application for unemployment benefits or to restart unemployment benefits after a subsequent period of unemployment benefits within a benefit year.
  • Continued claims or insured unemployment: Ongoing claims for unemployment benefits including weeks that are paid, and weeks that are pending or serving a disqualification.
  • Weeks claimed: The total number of such continued claims accumulated during a period
  • Weeks compensated: An unemployment made for a week of partial or total unemployment is considered a “compensated week.” The total number of weeks compensated in a year divided by fifty-two represents the average number of ongoing beneficiaries receiving payments per week.
  • First payments: The “first payment” represents the first payment for unemployment received by an eligible unemployed individual. It is used as a proxy for the number of beneficiaries for a program.
  • Seasonally adjusted (SA) versus non-seasonally adjusted (NSA): Seasonal adjustments account for fluctuations throughout the year that are driven by various trends in weather, holidays, school calendars, etc. This allows the data to highlight cyclical trends aside from these regular fluctuations. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been relying more on the NSA numbers, since it is unclear to what degree current trends are impacted by regular seasonal fluctuations.
  • Advance versus prior week claims: As per the Department of Labor, “Advance claims are not directly comparable to claims reported in prior weeks. Advance claims are reported by the state liable for paying the unemployment compensation, whereas previous weeks reported claims reflect claimants by state of residence.” Advance claims can be thought of as an estimated figure, whereas prior week is the adjusted, final, figure that is posted on a weekly delay. In this dashboard, we use advance claims only for the most recently released weekly data, whereas all previous weeks’ data are “prior week.”
  • Nonmonetary timeliness: An official federal standard representing the number of days between the detection of an issue related to eligibility other than the amount earned and a determination of that issue. Separate rates are reported for separation and nonseparation issues. Core performance measures can be found here.
  • Separation: An eligibility issue related to the reason that an individual became unemployed, such as whether they were laid off, fired, or quit.
  • Nonseparation: Eligibility issues other than how much a worker earned or why they became unemployed. These include whether an issue is available for work, refused a job offer, or failed to search work.
  • Benefit exhaustions: The number of individuals who have reached the maximum amount of time that they are able to collect benefits, and have received their final payment.
  • National payments: The amount paid for all programs by the U.S. Treasury. 
  • Lost Wage Assistance: An executive action put forth by the Trump administration on August 8, 2020 that diverted FEMA funding to states to administer federal supplemental UI payments, amounting to $300 per person per week, for a maximum of six weeks, and a maximum of $44 billion nationally. Read more here.

About the Project

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an unprecedented economic crisis, during which tens of millions of Americans have relied on state and federal unemployment benefits as a lifeline of economic support. While unemployment programs are delivering billions of dollars of aid to families and the economy, the process of applying for and receiving that aid has been frustrating, with the millions seeking aid experiencing excruciating wait times at the hands of overwhelmed state systems. The TCF–New America pandemic unemployment insurance dashboard seeks to shed light on the impacts of and challenges facing this critical safety net.

Weekly Statement On The Latest Numbers

December 2, 2021

In response to the release of the weekly unemployment numbers, and in advance of Friday’s key November jobs report, Andrew Stettner, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation and a leading expert on unemployment insurance (UI), released the following statement:

“Today’s Labor Department report on UI claims comes in advance of another highly anticipated monthly jobs report, and presents an important opportunity to take stock of the labor market recovery. Today’s UI figures continue to show signs of major progress for the job market: seasonally adjusted unemployment claims rose slightly, up to 222,000, after they had reached their lowest level since 1969 last week.

“However, digging deeper into the steady drop in UI claims—which the Biden administration points to as a sign of a dramatically-improving economy—paints a more mixed picture of the recovery and should give policymakers pause before declaring victory in the COVID-19 job market.

“A new analysis of claim figures, conducted by The Century Foundation in consultation with Aaron Sojourner of the University of Minnesota, finds that:

      • There were at least 7.6 million workers who lost all federal UI benefits when the pandemic unemployment programs abruptly ended in early September
        • This is in addition to the 1.6 million workers who lost pandemic UI aid in the summer, when governors in 24 states unilaterally and prematurely terminated federal aid
      • Roughly 596,000 workers ran out of state UI benefits in September and October
        • These workers have no access to federally-funded extensions that had been offered through the CARES Act (PEUC)
        • Workers in only four states (New Mexico, Alaska, Connecticut, and New Jersey) are guaranteed state Extended Benefits
      • Many of these workers cut off from benefits have found jobs, but not all:
        • Based on data on UI declines through the year and reemployment generally, reemployment rates are likely running about five percent per week (~20 percent per month)
        • Given that rate, we estimate there are 5.75 million workers who are still unemployed after the expiration of American Rescue Plan benefits (317,000 of these are getting back-pay from pandemic programs)
      • This means 5.4 million of the 18.2 million drop in UI claims between last Thanksgiving and now is related to workers being cut off from UI federal and state aid, not people finding jobs

“This data shows that while yes, many Americans have successfully exited unemployment and found work as the economy improves, there were millions of workers cut off from unemployment assistance before they were able to find work. Even with strong gains in tomorrow’s jobs report, the economy is still likely to be short 3.5+ million jobs compared to February 2020. Moreover, the number of long-term unemployed is twice as high as before the pandemic, and there are 3 million workers who have dropped out of the labor force altogether.

“We also cannot lose sight of the fact that the cut off in UI programs hit Black workers the hardest, since they relied more heavily on unemployment aid during the pandemic, and are still suffering unemployment rates at recession levels (7.9 percent among Black workers). Or the fact that the expiration of special pandemic UI rules have left many caregivers, freelancers, delivery drivers, part-time workers and others out to dry.

“Even a banner jobs report tomorrow won’t change these realities, or diminish the need for an overhaul of our unemployment systems. The harsh cut off of jobless aid continues to cast a cloud over the recovery, and is one more reason that the Federal Reserve must be cautious before it takes actions that could slow the pace of the jobs rebound.”


Access More Data

  • To see a graph of state data over time (when available), click on a state’s bar on the right-hand-side bar chart. 
  • You may download the data in the charts above directly by clicking the download button adjacent to each map, or download the entire workbook for all graphs in the tableau (bottom right), or see the full data set here
  • For those who want to dive even deeper into the data, TCF partnered with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia to make available an expansive data explorer that contains historical data on twenty-five or more variables, by state. Data is also downloadable. 

Join the conversation or pose any inquiries by visiting the UI data google group.

Read TCF Publications on UI Data