by Jill R Shahi | bloomberg
Applications for US state unemployment benefits unexpectedly surged for a third straight week, led by another surge in California, and weekly data shows a decrease.
Labor Department data showed Thursday that initial unemployment claims in routine state programs rose to 362,000 in the week ending Sept. 25, a seven-week high. The average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a reduction in 330,000 new applications.
Continuous claims for state benefits fell to 2.8 million for the week ending September 18.
The increase likely underscores swings in weekly data as employers are desperate to hire more workers and they still have. Claims are still hovering near pandemic levels.
That said, the last time unemployment claims rose in three consecutive weeks was April 2020, although those increases were quite large.
The stock opened higher, while the dollar weakened after the report and Treasury yields were higher.
After an increase of more than 17,000 in the previous period, California saw an increase of nearly 18,000 claims, the biggest in the week. Michigan and Texas also showed notable gains, though far less. Virginia reported the biggest drop this week after seeing the biggest jump last week, followed by Maryland.
With the end of federal pandemic unemployment programs, California said people who are still out of work, or working reduced hours, may qualify for regular state jobless benefits. This may help explain the back-to-back jump in the state.
Federal pandemic unemployment benefits expire in all states by September 6. The White House has said it will not extend jobless aid further, but states can use pandemic relief funds to provide additional aid to unemployed workers.