NIC Notes

Insights in Seniors Housing & Care

By: Beth Mace  |  March 26, 2020

Jobless Claims Surge to Historic High of 3.3 million in the Week Ending March 21

Economic Trends  |  Senior Housing  |  Workforce

The Department of Labor reported that 3,283,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance benefits in the week ending March 21, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the economy.  The weekly report is among the first economic indicators to show the effects of the virus on the economy.   This was an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week’s level of 282,000.  This shattered records and was the highest level of initial claims in the history of the series.  At its worse during the Great Recession, there were 665,000 first-time claims filed in the week ended March 28, 2009.  That was second only to the week ended October 2, 1982, when 695,000 first-time claims were filed.  This report compares poorly with the average 225,000 claims filed by people during each week during the past six months. 

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending March 7 was 2,006,363, a slight decrease from the previous week. There were 2,039,322 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2019. 

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 14 were in California, Washington, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

The sharp increase in claims is attributable to impacts form the COVID-19 virus.  Many states reported increased layoffs in service-related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in health care and social assistance, and the travel and transportation industries. States that depend heavily on tourism, were especially hard hit.

The increase in unemployment claims is a preview of the March unemployment rate to be announced by the BLS on April 3rd.  Most analysts expect it to rise sharply from its February 2020 50-year low of 3.5%.  In response to the expected sharp slowdown in the economy, the Senate approved a $2 trillion economic stimulus rescue package that broadly expands unemployment benefits.  The deal will go to the House for a vote on Friday, March 27th.

About Beth Mace

Beth Burnham Mace is a special advisor to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) focused exclusively on monitoring and reporting changes in capital markets impacting senior housing and care investments and operations. Mace served as Chief Economist and Director of Research and Analytics during her nine-year tenure on NIC’s leadership team. Before joining the NIC staff in 2014, Mace served on the NIC Board of Directors and chaired its Research Committee. She was also a director at AEW Capital Management and worked in the AEW Research Group for 17 years. Prior to joining AEW, Mace spent 10 years at Standard & Poor’s DRI/McGraw-Hill as director of its Regional Information Service. She also worked as a regional economist at Crocker Bank, and for the National Commission on Air Quality, the Brookings Institution, and Boston Edison. Mace is currently a member of the Institutional Real Estate Americas Editorial Advisory Board. In 2020, Mace was inducted into the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Hall of Honor. In 2014, she was appointed a fellow at the Homer Hoyt Institute and was awarded the title of a “Woman of Influence” in commercial real estate by Real Estate Forum Magazine and Globe Street. Mace earned an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College and a master’s degree from the University of California. She also earned a Certified Business Economist™ designation from the National Association of Business Economists.

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