Using U.S. jobless claims as economic gauge becomes trickier

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"Additionally, we are close to launching our third and final federal program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which will be available to South Carolinians who exhaust their 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits and are still unemployed", said Dan Ellzey, executive director of the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

The U.S. labor market experienced another wave of first-time unemployment claims last week, indicating layoffs are continuing at a high rate even though some states are reopening their economies.

The department said COVID-19 has had a "staggering" impact on the state's unemployment as Tennessee saw the highest unemployment rate "in a generation".

Meanwhile, the Army says its Redstone Arsenal will begin reopening in Huntsville next week after a partial shutdown caused by the pandemic.

The department also now reports the number of individuals who have filed claims.

In addition, about 35,700 continued claims were filed under the assistance program, including for retroactive benefit weeks.

This means that there were 29,446 individuals, who both live and work in the state of SC, filed an initial claim during the claim week, May 10-16.

Both states on Thursday released figures on initial filings for unemployment benefits.

Jobless claims have averaged just above 3 million over the past four weeks.

With the initial claims numbers being distorted by processing issues, attention has shifted to the number of people staying on unemployment benefits rolls.

Differences in how frequently people claim continued benefits in states are yet another reason why it's become more hard to get a precise read on week-to-week changes in the labor market at the state level. They can also gauge companies' ability to get people off unemployment or keep workers on payrolls as they access their share of a historic fiscal package worth almost $3 trillion, which offered loans that could be partially forgiven if they were used for employee salaries. However, Governor Bill Lee said Thursday during his weekly update there were still 22,000 claims that continue to remain pending. On an non-seasonally adjusted basis, initial claims eased to 2.17 million last week from 2.36 million.

The government reported that 6.1 million people had their applications for the PUA program processed in the week ending May 2. An additional 2.227 million had submitted claims last week under the PUA program.

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