Initial unemployment claims fall nationally, jump in Indiana

The number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits fell nationally last week, to 860,000,but jumped 23% in Indiana.

The Labor Department said Thursday that U.S. jobless claims fell by 33,000 from the previous week and that 12.6 million are collecting traditional unemployment benefits, compared with just 1.7 million a year ago.

Before the pandemic hit the economy, the number signing up for jobless aid had never exceeded 700,000 in a week, even during the depths of the 2007-2009 Great Recession.

In Indiana, 13,851 people filed initial unemployment claims in the week ended Sept. 12, up from an adjusted number of 11,255 the previous week, an increase of 2,596, or 23%. Prior to the pandemic, the state was typically seeing fewer than 3,000 claims per week.

A total of 162,009 people were receiving unemployment benefits in Indiana as of Sept. 5, the Labor Department said. That was up from 158,742 the previous week.

Thursday’s report also showed that an additional 658,737 people applied for jobless benefits nationally last week under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed and gig workers. That was a decrease from an adjusted 868,314 the previous week.

Indiana reported 12,905 new applicants for the PUA program in the week ended Sept. 12 after reporting 9,722 new claims the previous week. The state reported 217,512 people were receiving continued PUA aid as of Aug. 29, up from 169,475 the prior week.

PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits. Those include the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers and workers for certain religious entities.

The coronavirus outbreak slammed the U.S. economy in the spring, causing the economy to collapse at a 31.7% annual from April through June, by far the worst three months on record. Companies and government agencies slashed 22 million jobs.

Since then, the economy and job market have been rebounding. Employers added 10.6 million jobs from May through August, but the United States still has recovered less than half the jobs lost in March and April.

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