The number of Granite Staters who lost their jobs rose slightly last week, even as we learned that last month’s jobless rate went down slightly, to 6 percent.
Some 2,136 people initial unemployment claims in the week ending Oct. 10, 53 more than the previous week. Furthermore, the previous week’s sharp drop in initial claims has been adjusted upward, essentially wiping it out, dashing initial hopes of an accelerated recovery. Instead, the number of new layoffs remain stubbornly high — four times pre-pandemic levels.
The good news is that continuing claims continue to drop at a steady rate. In the week ending Oct. 3, there were 29,901 Granite Staters collecting unemployment, a drop of 2,850, or 8.7 percent, slightly sharper than last week’s 8.2 percent decline. In other words, more than 700 more people returned to work that week than lost their jobs the next. But the number of those collecting is still roughly 50 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels.
The figures are more up to date than the official seasonally adjusted 6 percent unemployment rate released on Wednesday for September. That’s down from 6.6 percent in August, but much higher than the 2.6 percent rate of September 2019.
The latest September figures indicate that the state added 7,900 jobs for the month, for a total of 697,230, but that is still nearly 60,000 fewer jobs than last September. The number of unemployed people — 44,510 — was 4,410 fewer than the previous month but still 24,580 more than a year ago.
New Hampshire is still faring better than the nation which in September had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.9 percent.
As for initial jobless claims nationally, they rose 6.2 percent last week to 898,000, though continuing claims dropped 10.4 percent to just over 10 million.
While the number of unemployed declined locally and nationally, their situation of those still jobless has becoming more ominous. This is the fifth week since the federal enhancement of an extra weekly $300 — already down from the original $600 — ended.
In addition, the six months of state benefits have run out for those laid off back in March. The CARES Act did extend that with another 13 weeks of federal benefits at the same rate. That should be a seamless transition, but there has been an interruption in benefits in some states. In any case, for those who started collecting in March, all unemployment benefits should cease in January.
There was hope that Congress would enhance or perhaps further extend those benefits, but as of Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s chief negotiator, said he doubted a deal would be reached before the election.