United States jobless claims continue gradual decline, remain elevated

More than 1.5 million American workers filed jobless claims last week as the coronavirus crisis wages on, the Department of Labor said Thursday, the fewest number of filings since the crisis began. Weekly initial jobless claims have decelerated for 10 consecutive weeks.

The state Department of Labor has come under fire since March as workers report waiting months for their benefit payments or calling unemployment offices day after day without reaching help.

Policymakers project a 9.3 percent unemployment rate at the year end.

"Initial jobless claims continued the gradual downward trend", Capital Economics wrote in a note Thursday. Still, by historical standards the number of weekly applications remains high. "Nevertheless, despite the discrepancy between the two measures, both tell the same broad story of a still near-unprecedented level of joblessness", the firm added. Florida reported 111,000 and NY had roughly 94,000 jobless claims.

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South Dakota has paid out $4.9 million in state benefits, in addition to $13.1 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, $894,000 in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and $46,000 in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. This is a drop of 681 claims from the prior week's total of 1,498.

"A persistent decline in the PUA claims as we've seen in the regular claims data would further increase our conviction in the labor market stabilization and suggest processing backlogs have been cleared". The new batch of claims also came less than a week after a surprisingly strong May employment report showed the USA adding 2.5 million jobs that month, largely due to 2.7 million workers returning from furloughs. It exceeded the national rate, which hit 14.7% in April.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.

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