Dr. Perryman describes the meaning of first-time unemployment claims dropping into numbers we have seen before and how that represents economic recovery from the pandemic.
It is no exaggeration to say that I have seen millions of numbers every week since the late 1970s (comments regarding my social life are neither encouraged nor welcomed). On those rare occasions when one startles me, I can't help but mention it.
Texas recently opted out of federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the $300 weekly supplement. The reason often given is that there are as many job openings as there are Texans receiving benefits, with the implication being that people will now be more eager to enter the workforce.
Although the pandemic has spared no one, it has had a disproportionate impact on working women. Over the past year, females have been more likely to leave the workforce due to job losses or conflicts with the added responsibilities surrounding childcare and household sustainability. As the economy recovers, these valuable members of the workforce will be essential. The latest Census numbers make that abundantly clear. Moreover, for many, working is indispensable for financial stability.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits in the US fell to 684,000 in late March for the first time in a year. Believe it or not, that's important. "Initial claims" sounds like something only an economist could love (and a nerdy one at that). This weekly statistic represents the first filing for unemployment for a specific claim--basically layoffs or jobs that have recently been eliminated. We normally don't pay much attention to it, but it got more headlines during the pandemic as a weekly barometer for how the economy was faring.
After a rugged and seemingly endless 2020, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. We are not done yet, but with vaccination programs ongoing and the disease and effective treatments better understood, we should be able to establish a new normal at some point in 2021. There are myriad challenges, but the path is beginning to emerge.