Jobless claims inch back up as layoffs persist nationwide

Walmart recently had a job fair tin Monroe for positions at the coming fulfillment center in the city. FILE

State applications for unemployment benefits crept back up in the most recent week, a sign nationwide that joblessness and layoffs continue to be a challenge.

In the week ending October 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims —or first-time claims — was 898,000, an increase of 53,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.

The numbers were the highest they’ve been since August.

The previous week’s level was revised up by 5,000 from 840,000 to 845,000.

ExploreOhio borrows $1 billion+ to meet unemployment obligations

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 6.8 percent for the week ending October 3, a decrease of 0.9 percentage point from the previous week’s revised rate, the Labor Department said.

“The campaign to return the economy to full employment is slowly being won,” said Scott Murray, an economist with Nationwide Economics. “The retreat of unemployment will include counter-attacks, noted in screaming headlines with sizable job loss figures. Still, the finding of new positions will be celebrated by the reduction of recurring claims. Disappointingly, the march back to the early 2020 employment level will not be short.”

“Given that we’re seven months into the pandemic now, these are still incredibly high numbers for initial claims,” AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at job site Indeed, told media Thursday.

Concerns about “double-counting” of claims have caused some economists to wonder whether jobless aid applications are a precise barometer of layoffs, the Associated Press said Thursday. But most still see an increase as a sign that claims are heading in the wrong direction seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the wire service said.

The story by now is all too familiar. After slowly falling from a peak of around 7 million claims in March, claims for unemployment benefits seem to have remained stuck at just below 900,000 each week as companies continue to lay off workers in an economy transformed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In Ohio, residents filed 20,090 initial or new jobless claims last week, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohioans filed 287,049 continued jobless claims in the same week, claims by people who have received benefits in ongoing weeks.

As of last Thursday, Ohio government had borrowed $1.04 billion from the federal government to keep paying unemployment benefits.

Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund ran out of money in mid-June, forcing the state to borrow from the feds to continue paying benefits to jobless workers.

Locally, Montgomery County residents filed 870 new applications for unemployment benefits in the week ending Oct. 10, with 13,716 claims continuing from previous weeks. In Miami County, those numbers were 149 and 1,928, while in Greene County they were 172 and 2,717, all respectively.

In Clark County, 202 new claims were filed as 2,764 claims were ongoing in the same week. In Butler County, residents filed 493 new claims with 8,257 claims continuing. And in Warren County, the numbers were 277 and 3,925, respectively.

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