Another 2.9 million people filed for U.S. jobless benefits last week, bringing COVID-19 total to 36 million
While initial claims number is falling, number of continuing claimants is still rising
Almost three million Americans filed for government jobless benefits last week, bringing the eight-week total during the coronavirus pandemic to more than 30 million people.
The U.S. Department of Labour reported Thursday that 2,981,000 people filled out initial claims in the week of May 9, a slight decline from the previous week's level and the sixth straight weekly decline.
But Thursday's data means that the total number of workers to fill out applications for jobless aid now sits at more than 36 million since the middle of March.
While the number of initial claimants is inching down slowly, the number of people who are staying on jobless benefits for an extended period is still disturbingly high. Continuing claims rose for the ninth straight week, up 456,000 to 22,833,000 in the week, a troubling sign that job losses are becoming more permanent, BMO economist Jennifer Lee said.
"As the lockdowns/shutdowns began, employers were forced to temporarily lay off or furlough their staff. But when will they bring them back?" Lee said Thursday. "Will they bring them back? Continuing claims provide a glimpse of that, and so far, it is not looking too encouraging."