Unemployment in 2020

Note: Unemployment data is delineated by Initial Claims and Continued Claims. Initial Claims are new and original claims for that week, whereas Continued Claims represent the required weekly resubmission for continued unemployment benefits by the claimant. Both Initial and Continued Claims have been presented as a measure of the unemployment rebound associated with spikes of Initial Claims. For example, while an Initial Claims spike drops, the associated Continuned Claims spike will indicate whether or not those unemployed individuals have returned to the workfore or are continuing to claim benefits.

2020 Unemployment

Analysis Categories

What does this measure?

Unemployment claims (Initial and Continued) by Industry Sector, Race/Ethnicity, and Age Group.

Why is this important?

As compared to the annualized historical unemployment page, the current year's unemployment page exists as a deeper dive into the unemployment experienced by the economy and the community throughout the year's natural cycles and during special events. Additionally, through disaggregating the claims between initial and continued claimants, we can analyze the rebound of unemployment spikes in as real-time as possible. Finally, further disaggregating the claims by race/ethnicity and age allows us to see the disparity even among periods of relative employment rebound.

How is Erie County doing?

Industry Sector

Understanding that 2020 has faced the most substantial employment disruptors in decades, some sectors have so far weathered the steep unemployment spike between March and April better than others. Analyzing the rate of Continued Claims, the following sectors still have a long way to go before returning to pre-COVID-19 levels of employment: Accommodation and Food Services, Administrative and Waste Management Services, Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation, Educational Services, Manufacturing, Healthcare and Social Assistance, Retail Trade, and Other Services.


As unemployment shrinks and a larger percentage of the workforce returns, we find higher representation of populations of color both Black or African American and those of Two-or-More Races in Continued Claims. These segments of the workforce will continue to be affected as the COVID-19 containment measures and social distancing last, and throughout the normalization of the retail and service economies (which feature a higher-than-average workforce of color) while all earners slowly return to normalcy in their shopping, dining, and entertainment habits and discretionary spending.


Like within the Race/Ethnicity analysis, the largest segment of the Continued Claims data comes from the remaining claimants aged 20 to 34. These age groups are in higher concentrations within the previously discussed sectors feeling the slowest return to normalcy during 2020.

About this Data

Data from the PA Department of Labor and Industry (PA DLI) Center for Workforce Information and Analysis (CWIA) as of December 19th, 2020.