United States pandemic layoffs pass 42m with 1.87m new weekly claims

US new weekly jobless claims seen falling below two million

As the US Labor Department prepares to release its weekly jobless claims report on Thursday, economists project another 1.84 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 30. The department said last week that state and federal agencies are working to investigate the apparent rise in fraudulent jobless claims at a time when a rising demand for aid is stressing the state's unemployment system. The job cuts reflect an economy that was seized by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

States are allowing businesses to reopen and companies are recalling workers to qualify for government-loan forgiveness, though some have said they might need to lay off employees again when the support runs out.

The number of continued claims for unemployment insurance has dropped in Tennessee for a fourth consecutive week, the Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development reported Thursday. That week, March 14, there were only 2,702 new claims.

The total number of people on unemployment rolls increased by 649,000 to 21.5 million. Some states, including California, only require people now receiving benefits, known as continued claims, to file every other week. States and local governments, whose budgets have been decimated by the Covid-19 fight, are also cutting jobs.

The state's highest infection and unemployment rates are in the historically impoverished counties of the Black Belt. Throughout Michigan, county unemployment rates ranged from 14.5 percent to 41.2 percent in April.


The dwindling pace of jobless claims suggests that the devastation in the job market may have bottomed out.

Over the past 11 weeks, a total of 433,552 regular unemployment initial claims were filed, and a grand total of 517,414 claims were filed including federal PUA benefits. Other workers who initially filed for traditional unemployment benefits may have switched to a program for independent contract workers and gig workers affected by the pandemic, muddying the waters. Its figures, however, did not appear in the weekly report.

Since March 15, the Department has paid out roughly $650 million.

"Given the shocking levels of initial unemployment claims that we've seen over the past few months, it's easy to forget that 2 million new initial unemployment claims is an incredibly high number", said Jason Reed, an economist and teaching professor of finance at University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.

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