New Jobless Claims Tumble Again, Beating Expectations

Unemployment, jobless, claims, pandemic, labor shortage

Initial jobless claims tumbled to 473,000, beating expectations and marking a new record low from the pandemic’s historic highs. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s latest weekly report on Thursday (May 13) said that this is the lowest level of claims since March 14, 2020, when it was 256,000, just before COVID-19 took hold in the U.S. 

Numbers dropped 34,000 from the previous week’s revised level, which was revised up by 9,000 from 498,000 to 507,000. Despite weekly drops in new claims, the overall number of people getting continued unemployment assistance is almost 17 million. There were 103,571 new claims filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which extends benefits to freelancers and independent contractors. 

After more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions, restaurants and bars are starting to reopen at full capacity, but are struggling to get enough help. Fast-food chains like McDonald’s have bumped up wages from $11 to $17 per hour, depending on the location, The New York Times reported.

Some 266,000 new jobs were created last month, adding to what has become a widespread labor shortage as entertainment venues, restaurants and bars reopen and expand service to more people. Even with some establishments dangling signing bonuses and other incentives, waiters, bartenders and other kitchen staff aren’t rushing to fill the jobs.  

Over 60 percent of people in the U.S. have restaurant experience, and for many, it was their first job. But now, over 50 percent of restaurant workers are exploring new fields, according to an April report by nonprofit One Fair Wage and the University of California at Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center.