Some 1.5 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week even as the US emerged from its coronavirus lockdown, the feds said Thursday.
Thursday’s figures from the US Department of Labor show more than 44 million people — or roughly 28 percent of the US workforce — tried to join the nation’s unemployment rolls in just 12 weeks as the pandemic sparked the worst labor crisis since the Great Depression.
The seasonally adjusted total has now declined for 10 straight weeks, indicating layoffs have slowed as the economy began to reopen. Economists expected about 1.5 million claims last week.
The number of people filing continued claims for benefits also dropped to 20.9 million in the week ending May 30 after rising to 21.2 million in the prior week. That suggests some workers have gone back to their jobs and no longer need unemployment checks.
“A sustained decline would be more desirable, signaling that more Americans are returning to work,” Bloomberg economist Eliza Winger said in a commentary.
Thursday’s data came on the heels of last week’s surprise jobs report showing the US economy added 2.5 million jobs in May. That came as a shock to economists given that millions of workers sought jobless benefits throughout last month.
The labor market still faces a long, difficult climb back to where it was before the pandemic. The Federal Reserve expects the unemployment rate to drop from its April peak of 14.7 percent to 9.3 percent by the end of the year — still more than double the 3.5 percent recorded in February.
With Post wires