As all counties in Colorado have now progressed from stay-at-home orders to safer-at-home guidelines, two questions are front of mind. Will there be another increase in cases of COVID-19 that again threatens to overwhelm our health care system? And how much of the economy will re-open? Answers to both questions remain unclear, yet over the coming weeks we expect to be inundated with stories and data that speak to both issues.
With new and expanded testing, we expect the daily updates on the number of new cases to reflect which parts of the state may experience an outbreak and how quickly it is spreading.
The ability to track the economic recovery is more challenging and will face lags in the update cycles. Federal jobs reports come out each month, with the May data not being released until mid-June. We can however, gain some insights from the weekly unemployment claims reports, as they show not only how many new claims there are, but also how many ‘continued’ claims there have been. Continued claims reflect the total number of claims from individuals who are filing for at least a second consecutive time.
The most recent data showed there were 228,713 continued claims through the week ending April 25th. Including the average number of continued claims leading up to the start of the COVID-19 crisis plus the number of new claims through the week ending April 18th, there might be roughly 320,000 people eligible for unemployment benefit if they had remained unemployed. While there are other reasons why people may not continue to file for unemployment benefits, the fact that there are nearly 100,000 fewer continued claims than the aggregate of new claims, it should give hope to the resilience of the economy. The continued claims data for this first full week of the safer-at-home phase will be released in two-and-a-half weeks. While we expect new unemployment claims to continue to be significant, it is possible that next week’s release of claims data will show the the peak in continued claims.