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Work and the Coronavirus

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Helping people understand how COVID-19 affects work and employment by sharing insights and help from ILR's workplace experts.

Weekly UI Claims in New York Reach Highest Total in Six Weeks, as National Numbers Continue to Fall

chart illustrating change in unemployment-insurance claims

Russell Weaver

This excerpt is from Cornell's High Road Policy blog.

Continuing with a concerning trend, initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims in New York State experienced a second consecutive week-over-week increase during the week ending 16 May 2020; while, nationally, the number of claims fell for the seventh straight week. There are at least two important takeaways from these data (see the table below):

  • Although the national number of weekly UI claims continues to drop, there were still more than 2.4 million initial claims made during the most recent week for which data are available. As we argued last week, these numbers are not normal. Nearly 39 million workers in the United States have now submitted UI claims since the start of the pandemic. Economic recovery is going to be a long-term project.
  • In New York State, weekly UI claims are continuing to fluctuate up and down, despite the falling national trend. Just two data releases ago – for the week ending 2 May 2020 – UI claims reached a six-week low point. After rising marginally during the following week, statewide UI claims shot up by 14% last week, to their highest total since the number peaked in early April. While it is difficult to say exactly why New York has not followed the same trajectory as the nation as a whole, recent upticks in UI claims might indicate that establishments that had been holding on during the pandemic are finding it increasingly necessary to cut staff or shutdown due to the prolonged pause on most economic activity (and, hence, prolonged downturn in revenue). As the State enters its first phase of reopening in most regions, there is reason to believe that job losses may start to slow. However, the amount of damage already done suggests that more – arguably much more – public assistance will be needed to help households and small businesses navigate through the crisis.

Read the rest of this article and see data at Cornell's High Road Policy blog.

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