Arizona unemployment claims drop to pre-pandemic levels
Arizona initial claims for regular unemployment insurance plummeted to 3,903 for the week ended February 13, down from 7,670 the prior week. The current week count was just 7.3% above last year and was the lowest since March 14, 2020. Initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance also fell for the week ended February 13, to 1,949. That was down from 2,492 the prior week.
According to the Arizona Department of Employment Security, they have paid out $13.4 billion (federal and state) in unemployment compensation since early March. The UI Trust Fund balance was $83.3 million for the week ended February 13, down from $94.8 million the prior week.
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National initial claims for regular unemployment insurance fell slightly to 862,351 for the week ended February 13, down from 868,053 the prior week. National claims were still nearly quadruple last years count. Initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance rose markedly to 516,299 for the week ended February 13, up from 341,872 the prior week.
The U.S. hotel occupancy rate bounced up to 45.1% for the week ended February 13, from 40.9% the prior week, driven in part by Valentine’s Day. Occupancy was still down 23.6% over the year.
Preliminary U.S. movie ticket sales rose to $8.2 million for the week ended February 18, but that was down 93.5% over the year. There were 27 new movie releases for the week, which was down 67.1%.
TSA traveler throughput increased slightly for the week ended February 20, to 6.3 million, which was up from 6.2 million the prior week. Travelers were down 58.1% compared to last year.
Seated diners at restaurants using the OpenTable app increased for the week ended February 20, which included Valentine’s Day. For Arizona, diners were actually up over the year on February 14, although the weekly total was still down 19.9%. Nationally, diners were down 44.0% over the year. Phoenix diners were down 34.9% over the year.
Travel to retail and recreation places (Google Maps data) remained weak for the week ended February 13 (compared to January 2020). Travel was down by between 25.3% and 19.1% for the U.S., Arizona, Maricopa County, and Pima County. The story was similar for travel to work, which was down by between 30.1% and 27.0%.
George W. Hammond, Ph.D., is the director and research professor at the Economic and Business Research Center (EBRC).