Even as the economy is beginning to reopen in parts of the country, layoffs and furloughs have taken hold of the U.S. labor market.
There were 2,438,000 Initial Claims for unemployment benefits in the US during the week ending May 16th, the data published by the US Department of Labor (DOL) revealed on Thursday.
"But at 2.4 million new claims last week, the seismic impact should not be dismissed because earlier shock waves were larger". The prior week's figure was revised lower to 2.69 million from the previously reported 2.98 million. In total, 38.6 million people have filed for initial unemployment aid since mid-March, when lockdowns began in full force across the country.
The new claims numbers may be undercounting the toll the coronavirus and lockdowns have exacted on the US labor market.
In the week ending May 16, California reported the highest number of jobless claims at an estimated 246,000 on an unadjusted basis, up from 213,000 in the previous week. NY had 227,000, up from 199,000.
"None of these states had systems set up to process the unprecedented amount of claims in one fell swoop, so there are backlogs", said Steve Blitz, chief US economist at TS Lombard in NY.
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. Economists were estimating 24.25 million continuing claims for the week.
Eligible Oklahomans will receive 13 more weeks of unemployment benefits for the period beginning the week of March 29 through the week of December 26. This reading came in slightly worse than the market expectation of 2.4 million.
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.
Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.