Easing Unemployment Claims Show Slower Pace of Coronavirus-Related Layoffs

Gene Naumovsky

While unemployment still rocks the nation, a slow, but steady decrease in jobless claims provides hope.

A first since February, the number of workers obtaining unemployment benefits diminished as recent weekly claims fell, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Labor Department reported a seasonally adjusted 2.1 million claims for unemployment benefits this week, now down from the 2.4 million reported last week. Although the number remains 10 times greater than before the pandemic, unemployment has slowly fallen over the last eight weeks.

Workers receiving jobless payments fell to 21.1 million this week (3.9 million less than last week), but the number is still far greater than the past record from 2009: 6.5 million.

GDP is reported to have decreased at a revised annual rate of 5.0 percent based on the Commerce Department’s Thursday data. Long-lasting durable goods continue to see a decrease in demand as orders decreased by 17.2 percent in April.

Firms are beginning to rehire and employees showed up for 17 percent more shifts the week ending on May 24, according to Massachusetts workforce management software company, Kronos. Workers are also returning to work as businesses look to claim loan forgiveness from the government. Yet, some businesses expressed concerns about future layoffs if stimulus aid stops.

Some companies are still being hit with layoffs, such as Boeing Co., which plans to lay off more than 13,000 workers. American Airlines also announced a 30 percent reduction of management and administrative staff, which would result in more than 5,000 jobs lost.

University of Michigan economists predict a total of 30 million lost jobs due to the pandemic, but say around a third of the jobs will come back during the summer. A new program allows self-employed and gig-economy workers to obtain unemployment benefits, but the Labor Department did not include such data in its primary claim totals.

The program saw a marginal decrease in filed claims, decreasing from 1.25 million to 1.19 million in the week that ended on May 23.

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