California jobless claims rise to three-month high, accounting for one-fifth of the nation

The doors of a barbecue restaurant are locked in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 25, 2021

California’s unemployment claims have soared to the highest level in three months, with the number of claims topping 145,000 last week, or about 20 percent of the nation’s jobless claims, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday (April 8), indicating that the state’s employment situation is still not in a healthy state.

According to the Labor Department, the number of California workers filing for unemployment benefits for the first time in the week ending April 3 was about 145,400, up 39,000 from 106,400 the week before.

Nationwide, a total of 744,000 people filed for unemployment benefits during the week ending April 3, an increase of 16,000 over the previous week. The data show that California’s single-week increase in claims was more than double the nationwide increase.

The Department of Labor noted that unemployment claims from California now account for 19.6 percent of U.S. jobless claims, with about one in five people coming from California.

California’s single-week total is currently the highest since the week ending Jan. 9, when workers filed 182,600 initial unemployment claims.

Michael Bernick, an attorney with law firm DuaneMorris and former director of the California Employment Development Department (EDD), analyzed filings from EDD, UC Berkeley and UCLA’s California Policy Lab and noted the reasons why unemployment claims remain high statewide.

“More than 75 percent of initial claims are ‘add-on claims,’ meaning that claimants initially file, then are employed, only to be unemployed again during the benefit year,” Bernick said.

He argued that California’s unemployment trends show that despite the strong February nonfarm job growth reported by EDD, the statewide labor market is still far from healthy.

“This high rate of ‘additional claims’ indicates continued instability and significant layoffs,” Bernick said. “Companies are bringing back employees only to find that they are not earning enough to sustain employment.”

California’s labor market accounts for 11.8 percent of the U.S. total.

U.S. media believe the number of Californians filing for unemployment benefits is enough to show that many employers there are still laying off workers even as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 (the Chinese Communist virus) and the government distributes aid throughout the economy.

A government statement said more than 3.7 million people nationwide received state unemployment benefits in the traditional sense in the week ending March 27. When including the supplemental federal program set up last year to help the unemployed survive the epidemic crisis, a total of 18.2 million people received some form of unemployment assistance during the week of March 20.