Jobless Claims Exceed Expectations as Blue States Lag Behind

411,000 Americans filed for initial jobless benefits versus 380,000 expected

People on a Kentucky unemployment line in 2020 / Getty Images
June 24, 2021

First-time unemployment claims exceeded expectations last week as states led by Democratic governors lagged behind in economic recovery measures.

According to a Thursday morning Department of Labor report, 411,000 Americans filed for initial jobless benefits in the week that ended June 19, surpassing the 380,000 economists expected. Four-hundred-eighteen-thousand people filed new unemployment claims in the week prior, a month-long high. The report comes as Democratic governors struggle to match the strong economic recovery enjoyed by their Republican counterparts.

Twelve of the 15 states that have restored pre-pandemic economic activity levels are led by Republicans. Seven of the 10 states showing the lowest job and business levels are run by Democrats. Included in the bottom 10 is Pennsylvania, led by Democratic governor Tom Wolf. The state reported an increase of more than 14,500 first-time jobless claims, the largest in the country. In Florida, meanwhile, new claims decreased by more than 3,100.

At least 12 states have already moved to reject the Biden administration's enhanced unemployment benefits, which Republicans and Democrats alike have tied to the country's ongoing labor shortage. Nine more states will end their participation in the program in June. Louisiana is thus far the only Democrat-run state to end the benefits ahead of their September expiration date.

"We have a record 9.3 million job openings and 9.2 million unemployed Americans—a disappointing pair of statistics, thanks to President Biden's overly-generous jobless benefits," Job Creators Network president and CEO Alfredo Ortiz said in a statement.

The White House did not return a request for comment.