Data regarding national weekly new unemployment insurance (UI) claims is available going back to 1967. Since that time, the highest number of new claims filed in a week was in September of 1982, when Americans filed 671,000 UI claims. Due to COVID-19, the nation is now experiencing an unprecedented spike in the number of new UI claims filed. For the week ending March 28, 2020 more than 6,867,000 claims were filed, 10 times higher than ever before recorded.
While nationwide UI claims information provides a broad view, until now there has been no solid information regarding new local claims on a weekly basis to provide a local perspective. Just this week EDD has begun to share local new claims data with Workforce Boards across the state, so that our communities can better gauge the impact of this public health crisis on our local economy.
As you can see in the accompanying chart, new UI claims in Tulare County were averaging around 500 per week in February and March, before increasing to 859 the week of March 21st and then skyrocketing to 6,996 for the week ending March 28th. This nearly 20 fold increase in new UI claims in a two week period, starkly illustrates that our local economy is in the midst of an unprecedented economic upheaval. In the two weeks since that initial sharp increase, new claims continue to be filed at historically high levels, indicating that the economic impacts of this pandemic continue to reverberate through our community.
So that our community can have insight into our local economy, we will be updating our website weekly with the new data from EDD. So please check back frequently to keep up to date.
On a related note, on April 17th, EDD released the March Employment Report for Tulare County. Unfortunately, it's not a useful portrait of the current state of our local economy. The data was derived from a household survey conducted the week of March 8th. Though the reported unemployment rate of 14.5 percent represents a modest increase in unemployment, the report largely reflects the economic strength of the time immediately preceding the Statewide Stay-at-Home order. Our expectation is that the April Employment report, which will be released May 22nd, will be the first time that the unemployment rate will reflect the hardships our community is experiencing. So, for now, we will continue to share the weekly new claims data to provide a barometer of local job losses.
To view weekly data CLICK HERE