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NJ Unemployment Applications Surge


by Patrick J. O'Keefe, Director of Economic Research

The most recent U.S. Department of Labor unemployment insurance (UI) data for New Jersey shows that through the week ended June 28: 

  • Applications for benefits more than doubled in two weeks as
    • Schools shifted to summer staffing levels and
    • Leisure/hospitality and transportation firms adjusted to industry-specific conditions;
  • The total number of beneficiaries drifted lower.

View accompanying chartbook.

Initial claims (chart 1), a proxy for layoffs, surged (+134%) in the second half of June.  

A spike in filings is typical in June as schools (and related employers) furlough workers as they shift to summer schedules. This year’s increase was exceptionally large, however. 

Even after adjustment for seasonal factors (chart 2), new filings rose 16.5% in two weeks. According to the June report of layoffs published by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, New Jersey topped all states in announced job cuts in June. The top two job-cutting industries nationally were entertainment/leisure and transportation, both of which down-sized in New Jersey in June.

The seasonally adjusted four-week moving average of applications (chart 3) – which adjusts for regularly recurring changes (e.g., summer school closings) and smoothes weekly fluctuations – rose 8.3% in the last week of June.  

Continuing claims (chart 4), that is individuals already receiving regular benefits, were little changed (-1.2%) in the most recent week. 

The number of beneficiaries is 7.4% less than a year ago and 9.4% below the average during the five years (2003-2007) prior to the recession. Since mid-June, the four week average has been at the lowest level since mid-December 2007.

Adjusted for seasonality and weekly fluctuations (chart 6), the number of beneficiaries is 46.1% below the recession’s peak in June 2009.

The seasonally adjusted total of ongoing claims (chart 5) is, with one exception (week ended May 24), the lowest since mid-April 2008. But given the non-seasonal layoffs noted above, the count of continuing claims is expected to rise in the coming weeks.

The State’s insured unemployment rate (IUR), the number of beneficiaries as a percent of total covered employment, was 2.8% for the second straight week and below 3.0% for the sixth consecutive week, the longest string below that level since 2007.

In sum, although New Jersey’s unemployment claims activity typically rises as schools shift to summer schedules, this year’s jump was exacerbated by non-seasonal cutbacks that may disrupt the State’s longer-term downward trend in the number of claimants.

The statements, opinions, and conclusions contained herein are based solely upon the author’s own studies, research, and personal experience. Neither CohnReznick nor the author make any representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. CohnReznick and the author expressly disclaim any liability for any loss or damage which may be incurred, of any kind whatsoever, as a result of or arising from the use of any of the information contained herein or reliance on the accuracy or completeness of it.

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