California unemployment claims rocket higher, worst in five months

Unemployment claims in California rocketed to their highest level in five months last week, raising uncertainties about the strength of a statewide economy attempting to recover from coronavirus-spawned maladies.

California workers filed 75,800 initial claims for unemployment during the week that ended Sept. 18, an increase of 24,200 from the prior week, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday.

The total number of claims is the highest first-time jobless filings have been since the week ending on April 24 — nearly five months ago — when jobless claims totaled 78,600 for that week, this news organization’s analysis of the Labor Department posts shows.

It is also the largest one-week increase since April 3, when jobless filings jumped by 39,100 during the seven-day stretch.

Nationwide, workers filed 351,000 initial claims for unemployment last week, an increase of 16,000 from the 335,000 that workers filed the prior week, the Labor Department reported.

The jobless claims that California workers filed last week are far higher than what would be normal in a healthy statewide economy.

The 75,800 claims that were filed last week are 69% higher than the average weekly totals for January 2020 and February 2020, the final two months before government agencies ordered wide-ranging business shutdowns to combat the spread of the coronavirus. During those two months, unemployment claims averaged 44,800 a week.

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