Unemployment claims change little in past week

PUA claims up sharply amid suspected fraud

 Regular unemployment claims, both new and continuing, changed little over the past week.
At the same time, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims for self-employed and gig workers increased sharply amid concerns many of them are fraudulent.
Initial regular claims fell 369 to 10,105 in the week ending Jan. 23 while continued claims decreased just 268 to 80,927.
But initial PUA claims spiked upward by 55,084 to a total of 111,662.
Officials expressed concern that a significant number of those new claims are phony.
In addition, 91,252 continuing PUA claims were filed during the week, up more than 11,000 from the previous week.
A spokesman said this is the first increase in PUA continued claims since the week ending Oct. 31.
A major reason for the decreases in regular claims is that many of the jobless are expiring their regular UI benefits and moving to the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. Those who expire those benefits move, finally, to the State Extended Benefits (SEB) program.
While PEUC enrollees decreased by 5,039 claims from the previous week, the new stimulus package provided some relief by updating the number of available benefit weeks for possibly 11 more weeks of benefit checks.
But more of the burden is still falling on the SEB program that saw an increase of 6,845 claims to 59,781 last week.

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