People are continuing to file for unemployment benefits as job losses continue to mount amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is upending the economy and everyday life.
New unemployment claims for the week ending May 9 were 2.98 million, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday (May 14). That pushed the total number of claims filed since the crisis began to some 36.5 million — by a far a record.
The four-week moving average of claims filed was 3.616 million in the latest period. That’s a decline of 564,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 4.181 million, which the BLS pushed upward up by 7,000 from the original of 4.174 million.
But despite a decline in the numbers in the past six weeks, new claims have been elevated to record highs for over two months. This week’s reduction is by a smaller margin than previous declines.
During the week ending April 25, there were 23 states that reported 3.4 million people claimed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. In addition, 13 states reported that 79,538 people filed for pandemic unemployment.
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending May 2 were in Oklahoma (+41,385), Maryland (+25,318), New Jersey (+16,360), Maine (+8,452) and Puerto Rico (+4,600). The largest decreases were in Florida (-258,243), Alabama (-45,981), Georgia (-38,213), Washington (-37,289) and Pennsylvania (-33,451).
April jobs data also show that teenagers (31.9 percent), Hispanics (18.9 percent), Blacks (16.7 percent), and adult women (15.5 percent) rank among the hardest hit by unemployment.
“The latest numbers on unemployment claims, below 3 million, are certainly another sickening punch to the gut, and, we need to be braced for more incoming body blows with respect to economic data,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.
“As Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled in his remarks, the economy faces risk of prolonged damage from the current array of multifaceted challenges,” Hamrick said. “Hopes of a V-shaped recovery have faded into more downbeat realism as stay-at-home orders have persisted and businesses have gone without sales.”
Almost 60 percent of small and medium-sized business (SMB) retailers surveyed by PYMNTS said they probably don’t have enough money to get through the pandemic even with government aid.