Yahoo Finance's Emily McCormick joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss the latest jobless claims numbers.
ZACK GUZMAN: I also want to highlight the fact that we got initial jobless claims as well, unexpectedly rising to 742,000. That was the first increase we saw in that data since early October, perhaps stoking fears that a slowdown is coming as this economic recovery looks shakier and shakier heading into the winter months as coronavirus cases surge across the country. But to kick off the back half of our hours here, I want to focus in on that report here with Yahoo Finance's Emily McCormick. And Emily, that is the big question is how this recovery might be losing some steam here. And we got this unemployment update.
EMILY MCCORMICK: That's right, Zack. And just taking a look at this latest Labor Department jobless claims report, that did show signs-- or at least early signs-- of backsliding here in the labor market's recovery. As you mentioned earlier, jobless claims unexpectedly rising for the first time in five weeks last week, those coming in at 742,000 versus the 700,000 that had been expected and the upwardly-revised 711,000 during the prior week.
Now, on a state-by-state basis, some notable standouts here, both in terms of increases and decreases last week. We saw Louisiana adding by far the greatest number of new claims, those rising by nearly 33,000 on an unadjusted basis. We also saw Massachusetts, Texas, and Virginia each also posting notable rises.
Now, then on the flip side, I do want to note that Illinois saw the largest drop in new claims last week, with those falling by more than 20,000 on an unadjusted basis. So interesting to see one of the states that has been grappling with the rise in COVID cases, at least for now, posting decreases on those new claims. We also saw Florida, New Jersey, and Washington state posting large drops and improvements in new claims. So geographically, still a patchwork of improvements across the country.
Now, turning to those continuing jobless claims, those did improve to the lowest level since mid-March, but they are still more than four times above the weekly average that we saw throughout 2019. Now, for last week-- or from the data from last week, we saw those coming in at 6.372 million, slightly below the 6.4 million expected. But as we've noted over the past couple of weeks, this drop in continuing claims has also come because more Americans are actually joining longer-term unemployment programs. Today's data showed that more than 233,000 Americans were added to the pandemic emergency unemployment compensation program for an acceleration over the number that we saw in last week's data.
So again, Zack, it is going to be interesting to see where things shape up as we head into the winter months. We are still seeing these COVID-19 cases rising across the country. That's something that could put downward pressure here on the labor market going forward.
ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and Em, you know, the other thing that we like to highlight here, too, is just kind of looking at the states and how these unemployment claims, when you stack them up-- what their economies look like. We've been highlighting the fact that Hawaii has been leading the nation in terms of the insured unemployment rate. That would be the ratio of people on jobless benefits here versus the labor force. And that continues to be the highest, but it's tied now with California, both states at about an 8.3% insured unemployment rate, followed by New Mexico, Nevada, and Georgia, which, again, is very interesting because Georgia is one of those states that we saw not necessarily improving relative to the nation heading into the election. And we know that that state's now heading for runoff races, so very interesting updates in terms of the state-by-state recovery there. But Emily McCormick, appreciate you bringing us the latest on that front.