Discussion Paper

Translating Weekly Jobless Claims into Monthly Net Job Losses


Abstract: News headlines highlighting the loss of at least 30 million jobs (so far) underscore the massive shock that has hit the U.S. economy and the dislocation, hardship, and stress it has caused for so many American workers. But how accurately does this number actually capture the number of net job losses? In this post, we look at some of the statistical anomalies and quirks in the weekly claims series and offer a guide to interpreting these numbers. What we find is that the relationship between jobless claims and payroll employment for the month can vary substantially, depending on the nature, timing, and persistence of the disaster.

Keywords: pandemic; COVID-19; coronavirus; unemployment; initial claims;

JEL Classification: R10;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Part of Series: Liberty Street Economics

Publication Date: 2020-05-07

Number: 20200507a