Unemployment claims exceed 33 million in the U.S.

Market participants got another pulse check on the U.S. labor market Thursday, as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and ahead of the highly-anticipated April jobs report.

Another 3.169 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 2, exceeding economists expectations for 3 million initial jobless claims. The prior week’s figure was revised higher to 3.846 million from the previously reported 3.839 million. So far over the past seven weeks, more than 33 million Americans have filed unemployment insurance claims.

(David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
(David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Continuing claims, which lags initial jobless claims data by one week, totaled a record 22.65 million in the week ending April 25. The prior week’s 17.99 million continuing claims was revised higher to 18.01 million.

The weekly number of jobless claims has been steadily declining even as the cumulative number remains high.

“Jobless claims in the U.S. slowed again last week, but not as much as hoped. As the economy re-opens more broadly this process should accelerate, but the economic pain resulting from mass unemployment will restrain the recovery process,” ING economist James Knightley said in a note Thursday.

“This report tells us nothing about hiring though, which is likely to remain weak for some time to come given the economically depressing effects of social distancing, consumer caution relating to Covid-19 fears, travel restrictions and the legacy of tens of millions of people being out of work,” Knightley added.

Certain states got hit harder than others last week, as backlogs continue to get processed. California saw the highest number of initial jobless claims at an estimated 318,000 on an unadjusted basis, down from 325,000 in the prior week. Texas reported 247,000, down from 254,000 in the previous week. Georgia had an estimated 227,000 and New York reported 195,000. Florida, which had the highest number of claims in the prior week, reported 173,000 in the week ending May 2, down considerably from 433,000.

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