Unemployment claims totaled 1.48 million last week as unemployment related to the coronavirus pandemic remained stubbornly high, though those who received benefits fell below 20 million for the first time in two months.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected 1.35 million claims.
While the weekly figures remained high and were worse than Wall Street estimates for the second week in a row, the total number of recipients continued to decline. Total recipients, or continued claims, fell by 767,000 to 19.52 million.
There were also 728,120 initial claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
The unexpectedly high number comes when all 50 states have reopened after a shutdown that started in mid-March. The increase in cases in various states has led some governors to reconsider relaxed policies.
“The danger now is that claims are rebounding in other states where infections are increasing rapidly and people are starting to stay away from restaurants and shopping malls,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
The most recent number marked the fourteenth week in a row that requests stayed above 1 million, a total eclipsed for the first time for the week ending March 21. That was shortly after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic and much of the US economy. USA
Claims had never been above a million before that. The record for the coronavirus era is just 6.9 million, reached in late March.
Statewide, California posted an increase of 45,930, or 19%, much larger than any other state, based on data unadjusted for seasonal factors. Pennsylvania increased by 6,892, a 14% jump from the previous week.
Oklahoma’s total fell by 35,571.
Problems with claim processing continue to plague some states, one month before the expiration date of the extended unemployment insurance that has provided many recipients $ 600 per week above what they would normally receive.
The US economy went into recession in February, a month before the pandemic declaration, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Gross domestic product contracted 5% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, and the decline in the second quarter is expected to be much worse.
The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDP tracker indicates a 45.5% drop for the second quarter, although CNBC’s quick update survey shows a more moderate decline of 36.9%. Either one would be far worse than anything the United States has seen since World War II.
Still, there are signs that growth has been buoyant. Housing and manufacturing figures have shown a rebound. New orders for durable goods in May rose 15.8%, the government reported Thursday, a figure well above the expected increase of 9.8%.