Jobless Claims Hit 3-Month High, Home Sales Decline

What Today’s Economic Reports Tell Us

Woman sitting on stairs outside holding her head.

Kiyoshi Hijiki / Getty Images

The COVID-19 surge pushed a measure of weekly layoffs to a three-month high, and the volume of home sales fell for the first month in four, reports showed Thursday.

Here’s a quick look at the most significant economic indicators of the day and what they tell us.

Initial Jobless Claims 

  • 287,000 people initiated claims for unemployment insurance last week, the most for any week since October and 55,000 more than the week before, according to the Department of Labor. 
  • While the number of claims in a week topped 6 million at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, it finally reached more typical pre-pandemic levels late last year, dropping as low as 188,000. Why are they moving in the wrong direction again? The recent surge in COVID-19 cases is triggering more layoffs and keeping sick people home, economists said. And that means the numbers will likely drop again once the wave ends, they said.

Home Sales

  • The monthly volume of home sales dropped for the first time in four months in December, most likely because there was hardly anything to buy, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales of existing homes fell 4.6% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 6.18 million as the number of homes for sale plummeted 18% to the lowest since at least 1999, when the association started keeping track.
  • The December decline likely reflects that there’s been so little on the market and that prices have risen so much, not that there is less interest in buying a home, economists at NAR and other firms said. And now that mortgage rates are rising so quickly, homebuyers have even more challenges, they said.

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Helen at or Diccon at

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Department of Labor. “Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims.” Page 6.

  2. Moody’s. “Jobless Claims.”

  3. National Association of Realtors. “Annual Existing-Home Sales Hit Highest Mark Since 2006.”

  4. Wells Fargo Securities. “Existing Home Sales Drop in December.”

Related Articles