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21 May, 2020 10:02

US weekly jobless claims climb by 2.4 million despite easing of lockdown measures

US weekly jobless claims climb by 2.4 million despite easing of lockdown measures

Millions more Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as the pandemic continues to wreck the economy, with the total number of US jobless claims over the past two months topping 38 million.

An additional 2.44 million filings were made in the week ending May 16, following 2.98 million claims during the previous week. The rise in unemployment comes despite the reopening of the economy by an increasing number of states across the country.

Claims have been gradually declining since hitting a record 6.867 million in the week ending March 28.

“A couple of large states, Florida and New York, still had increases in their weekly claims, but the majority of states are seeing new claims fall by 20 percent per week,” UBS said in a note dated May 15, seen by Yahoo Finance. “We expect a similar sized decline this week, with some modest processing catch-up effects in a small number of states amounting to around 100,000.”

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In the week ending May 9, Georgia reported the highest number of jobless claims at an unadjusted estimate of 241,000, up from 228,000 the previous week. Florida had 221,000 claims, California 214,000, and New York roughly 200,000.

Continuing claims (which lag behind initial jobless claims data by one week) are anticipated to total 23.5 million for the week ending May 9, after a record 22.83 million in the previous week.

“One bright spot, however, was the nearly flat reading in continuing claims, which serves as a gauge of (1) how quickly the economy can ramp up after states ‘re-open’ and (2) the efficacy of the PPP. The plateau in continuing claims is an early sign that employers are calling back employees,” Wells Fargo wrote.

Worldwide coronavirus cases have already exceeded five million, with 329,000 deaths. The United States has been the hardest-hit country, with more than 1.5 million cases and over 93,000 deaths.

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