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First Cut: Initial jobless claims continued to fall in June 13 week but still at unprecedented levels

Unadjusted levels of initial jobless claims were down 128,240 to 1.433 million in the week ended June 13. While the level of new filings was down for a tenth straight week, claims still continue to pour in at unprecedented levels. In spite of government relief efforts, large numbers of businesses are still struggling to find orders and earn enough revenue to keep workers on payrolls. Modest steps in reopening public-facing sectors of the economy have eased the flow, but the labor market remains far from its pre-pandemic activity. Since the March 21 week when the first major influx of claims happened, 41.833 million workers have applied for unemployment benefits.

The Labor Department cited no special factors beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Only Michigan estimated claims in the week.

New applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – for workers who are not covered under regular unemployment insurance – rose 66,063 in the June 13 week to 760,526.

The unadjusted level of continuing claims rose 25,986 to 18,654 million in the week ended June 6. The level of ongoing insured unemployment seems to have stabilized around the 19-million mark. Some workers are being recalled to their jobs or even finding new ones, but the influx of new claims is keeping the level more constant. The unadjusted insured rate of unemployment was unchanged at 12.8% in the June 6 week. The rate has fallen from recent historic peaks but is still one consistent with deep unemployment.

Continuing benefits for recipients of the PUA were down 444,742 to 9.281 million in the May 30 week and probably was due to workers in hospitality industries being recalled as some local and state restrictions on service businesses were lifted around Memorial Day. However, claims for Pandemic Emergency UC (PEUC) – to provide additional benefits to those whose regular benefits have run out – were up 556,799 to 1.077 million in the week.

Government relief efforts have brought some workers back on to payrolls, but this will only last as long as aid like Paycheck Protection Program funds are available. There’s still a lack of orders for many businesses that are forcing layoffs in spite of efforts to retain employees. Some workers recalled are only getting part-time hours and pay.

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