1.8M Americans File Unemployment Claims As Pandemic’s Total Tops 42M

Jobless Claims - June 4

Nearly 1.9 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, as the number of workers seeking assistance since the coronavirus pandemic began in mid-March topped 42 million — three times the job loss in the Great Depression, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

For the week ending May 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,877,000, a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 3,000 from 2,123,000 to 2,126,000. The four-week moving average was 2,284,000, a decrease of 324,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 750 from 2,608,000 to 2,608,750.

“Many of the new claims reflect current layoffs, as the corporate sector more broadly begins to adjust to the altered outlook for the year ahead,” Lou Crandall, chief economist of Wrightson ICAP LLC in New Jersey, told Reuters in advance of Thursday’s latest data. “Even as the economy begins to reopen, new job losses continue to pile up.” 

The largest increases in claims for the week ending May 23 were in Maine (11,941), Oklahoma (10,274), Michigan (7,859), Kentucky (6,417) and Oregon (4,913).

In contrast, states that saw the biggest decreases were Georgia (65,041), New Jersey (27,324), Kentucky (22,051), Louisiana (11,580) and Pennsylvania (11,172).

Thursday’s jobless claims came out one day before the anticipated May unemployment rate, which will be released on Friday (June 5) at 8:30 a.m. ET and is expected to surpass April’s record 14.7 percent.

Despite a report on Wednesday (June 3) from ADP, the New Jersey human resources management services company, which revealed that U.S. employers cut 2.76 million private payrolls in May, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, expressed optimism. “We will get back half of the jobs lost by Labor Day,” he told Reuters. “The unemployment rate will settle at around 10 percent.”