Southeastern Pennsylvania unemployment claims down 63 percent from peak

But over 116,000 people have active claims, more than 3.5 times the number in late March.

November 06, 2020
Active unemployment claims
  • At the height of the summer shutdown, Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs recorded nearly 312,000 active claims for unemployment. From the beginning of May through mid-August, the 5-county area claims total never dropped below 200,000, and in fact the average number of active claims across the 30 weeks from April to present sits at 213,000.

  • Happily, active claims have decreased for the last 8 consecutive weeks (starting around Labor Day). The city makes up just over half of total claims as of last week (58,711), while the four suburban counties show active claims ranging from 9,230 (Chester) to 18,688 (Montgomery).

  • Whether the downward trend continues consistently or changes shape remains to be seen. Construction in Pennsylvania is surging, with fewer active claims now than at the beginning of COVID. But winter will be undeniably challenging for the hospitality sector, as local and national surges in cases will suppress travel, keep conventions on hold, and force lockdowns or limitations on indoor activities. The picture will become clearer on the other side of the election. Regardless of the outcome, Philadelphia’s outsized restaurant and service industry will ensure that the city’s unemployment will remain stubbornly above its surrounding counties for the foreseeable future.