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First Cut: Tidal wave of new claims continued to ebb in May 2 week, but continuing claims have yet to crest

The unadjusted number of claims filed for unemployment benefits in the May 2 week fell 1.617 million to 2.849 million, a fourth week in a row in which new claims declined. The level remains at unprecedented highs, but it suggested that the tidal wave of new claims is ebbing further. That still leaves huge numbers of workers applying for benefits but it could be the worst is past for new layoffs. However, it raises the question of how long those applying for benefits will remain on the rolls.

The Labor Department once more cited COVID-19 as impacting the number of claims filed and approved for insurance. Two states – Pennsylvania and Michigan – had claims levels estimated.

The number of people receiving benefits rose an unadjusted 4.241 million in the week ended April 25 to 22.036 million. The unadjusted insured rate of unemployment climbed to a new record of 15.1 in the week.

The report included levels of persons applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in the week ended April 18 of 994,850, up significantly from the 136,417 in the April 11 week. Persons applying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation were at 52,305 in the April 18 week after 27,416 in the prior week.

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