Americans again file by the millions for unemployment benefits

US weekly jobless claims expected to climb by 2.4 million despite easing of lockdown measures

US weekly jobless claims remain high

The study also found there has been a 1,970.25% increase in unemployment claims in May 2020 compared to May 2019, the 5th highest increase in the U.S.

"None of these states had systems set up to process the unprecedented amount of claims in one fell swoop, so there are backlogs", said Steve Blitz, chief USA economist at TS Lombard in NY. Data for the prior week was revised down to show 2.687 million claims filed instead of the previously reported 2.981 million.

Continuing claims (which lag behind initial jobless claims data by one week) are anticipated to total 23.5 million for the week ending May 9, after a record 22.83 million in the previous week.

The number of weekly applications has slowed for seven straight weeks, and last week the figures declined in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

That means nationwide claims under that program - which expands unemployment benefits to those not traditionally eligible, such the self-employed and gig workers - were actually about half of the reported 2.23 million figure.

Another $132.4 in federal money has been paid out to PUA recipients since April 20, and $700 million in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) - the $600 a week federal program for people receiving regular or PUA benefits - has been paid out as well. The official first phase of a gradual reopening of the state's economy is to begin June 1. As the pandemic drags on, the ripple effects will continue to grow, possibly reaching those who - until that point - were still employed.

The CDLE will release its monthly employment report detailing the April unemployment rate and other details Friday morning.

"While the steady decline in claims is good news, the labour market is still in bad shape", said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial. Some economists are looking to the raw numbers for a more accurate read on benefit filings amid challenges with the seasonal adjustment process.

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