The number of workers who filed jobless claims fell slightly again last week, but the coronavirus crisis has put 38.6 million Americans on unemployment insurance since the pandemic struck in March, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor (DOL).
For the week ending May 16, the seasonally adjusted initial claims were 2.4 million, a 249,000 drop from the previous week's revised level.
The four-week moving average was 22 million, an increase of 2.3 million from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 71,250, to 19.6 million from 19.7 million.
The largest increases in initial claims in the week ending May 9 were in Florida (up 48,222), while Georgia increased by 14,420 and Washington state saw an additional 8,615 people file claims.
By contrast, the states with the largest decreases were California (where claims fell by 103,590), Texas (102,382 decline) and Oklahoma (54,806 fewer filings).
Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate, noted that the latest numbers represent the ninth straight week of new jobless claims in the millions -- although not as bad as some of the previous weekly data. Still, he said that while the numbers are dropping, people shouldn't dismiss the seismic impact of another 2.4 million jobless claims.
“Many of these filers seeking unemployment benefits are not solitary in their suffering,” Hamrick said. “Some are undoubtedly wage earners for families now seeking to make up for lost income in the battle to remain solvent, housed and fed. The implications of the response and the previous status quo will undoubtedly be fodder for the coming presidential election, as well as for further debate in the years to come.”