The national debate over unemployment benefits rages on and extra assistance seems to be a particular roadblock for aid negotiations right now. I decided to delve back onto the ND data and look at benefit payouts in the state. To start with consider the aggregate amount (this is per week reporting period):
I think the picture conforms to most expectations. The North Dakota economy was doing fine, and then COVID-19 hits and the payouts become large and immediate. After the initial spike there is a bit of a fall though a higher level for a time. After that the decline comes as employment recovers, a bit, though we are not out of the woods yet.
The scale of this is problematic so I am going to take a quick stab at scaling the overall payments. I use the initial claims and continuing claims in a given week as my scaling factor to report the benefit payments per claim.
It is actually pretty stable. The precipitous drop in March/April has me thinking about different variables for scale in the future but it might be the best available, especially with weekly frequency. So what to make of these numbers? When you look at the raw data there are clearly some high payments made. However, when I see them in McKenzie and Williams county you start to suspect oil and some of that is true. Obviously there is more to pull out of this though and that will be in future posts.