Even as an increasing number of states have begun reopening their economies across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic is largely expected to have continued to wreak havoc on employment in the U.S. last week.
Economists estimate that an additional 2.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 16, following 2.98 million claims in the prior week. Over the past two months, more than 36 million Americans have filed unemployment insurance claims.
Nevertheless, after hitting a record in the week ending March 28, the weekly initial jobless claims figure has been on a steady decline. Specifically, most states in recent weeks have seen substantial decreases in weekly claims.
“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% per week,” UBS said in a note May 15. “We expect a similar sized decline this week with some modest processing catch up effects in a small number of states amounting to around 100k.”
In the week ending May 9, Georgia reported the highest number of jobless claims at an estimated 241,000 on an unadjusted basis, up from 228,000 in the previous week. Florida had 221,000, California reported 214,000 and New York had roughly 200,000 jobless claims.
Continuing claims, which lags initial jobless claims data by one week, are anticipated to total 23.5 million in 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 serve 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 in a note May 15.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were more than 4.9 million coronavirus cases and 324,000 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data. In the U.S., there were 1.53 million cases and 92,000 deaths.