Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly, But Continued Claims Plummet

October 15, 2020

The Department of Labor reported that 898,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance were filed for the week ending October 10. That is an increase of 53,000 from the previous week’s adjusted total of 845,000 initial claims. Continued claims for the week ending October 3 were just above 10.0 million, down close to 1.2 million from the week before. Dropping below 10.0 million will be a significant milestone given the numbers reached 24.9 million during the peak of the pandemic.

LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy estimates the combined total of initial and continued claims for the week ending October 10 is approximately 10.4 million, with an unemployment rate of 12.8% due to the pandemic’s ongoing economic impact.

Unemployment Claims for Week Ending October 10

Nationally, while the labor market has made progress, there is still a long way to go. A Wall Street Journal survey, conducted October 2-6, indicated that 34.7% of economists polled believe U.S. jobs will be fully recovered by 2022, while 42.9% project that will not happen until 2023. When it comes to GDP, a measure of the economy’s total output, 57.4% of the economists polled forecast that GDP will be back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021. Another 18.5% expect GDP to fully recover by the first quarter of 2022. Based on how far the economy dropped in 2020, that is a promising projection for businesses looking to get back on their feet. Fiscal stimulus, however, continues to be a key input to recharging the national economy’s recovery, and questions remain whether a deal can be reached before the Nov. 3 election, or even by year’s end.

Unemployment claims Oct.10. 2020 chart


Initial unemployment insurance claims continue to hover between 800,000 and 900,000 per week. LaborIQ expects initial jobless claims for October to be around 3.8 million, an average of 850,000 per week. COVID-19 will continue to inhibit business activity until the virus is under control. The development and widespread availability of a vaccine will remain an important focus of both public health officials and economists in the coming months. The road ahead will be tough for businesses and families to navigate, but successful stimulus negotiations remain a key to putting wind back into the economic sails.

Note: This week’s report does not include new claims from California, as the state temporarily suspended accepting new claims. Last week’s total for California was used as an estimate in this week’s report.

LaborIQ by ThinkWhy continuously monitors and forecasts labor data at all levels, measuring impact to cities, industries, occupations and business across the U.S.