Economists are monitoring continuing claims to gauge the breadth of the recovery in the labor market as states begin to reopen their economies.
Counting the 1.1 million claims filed through the federal government's temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, new jobless claims totaled a much higher 3.3 million last week.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims would total 2.4 million in the latest week.
Continuing claims under the PUA program totaled 6.12 million as of May 2. "But at 2.4 million new claims last week, the seismic impact should not be dismissed because earlier shock waves were larger", Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst Mark Hamrick said in an email Thursday. That's down 249,000 from the revised number of claims filed in the week ending May 9. The economy lost a record 20.5 million jobs in April, on top of the 881,000 shed in March. Most states in recent weeks have seen substantial decreases in weekly claims.
A closed Gap store is pictured in Times Square following the outbreak of coronavirus disease in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, on March 23.
Initial claims appeared to have passed their peak hit in late March, and the latest figure is down 249,000 from the almost 2.7 million claims file in the week ended May 9.
One potential silver lining in the figures: the majority of states reported a decline in continuing claims, a sign that reopenings are bringing people back to work in many parts of the country.
"The sharp rise in continuing claims the week before illustrates that the easing of lockdowns in many states has not yet resulted in any large-scale recall to work for those now on temporary layoff", Capital Economics said in a note Thursday.
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