Jun 19, 2020 - Economy

Unemployment claims are declining very slowly

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans lost their jobs at a frenetic pace beginning in March, as unemployment figures rocketed to never-before-seen totals, but they are not coming back nearly as quickly, data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows.

Why it matters: While the number of claims has fallen, nearly 35 million Americans were receiving or had applied for some kind of unemployment insurance as of June 13.

  • Those numbers are especially shocking given that businesses have been reopened in certain parts of the U.S. for close to a month after government-imposed lockdowns.
  • “Labor market problems have shifted away from mass closings and layoffs in immediate response to shutdown orders, and toward still-catastrophic numbers of new layoffs related to the long-term, reverberating effects of a recession,” Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, told Reuters.

Driving the news: The Labor Department found another 1.51 million Americans filed new applications for traditional jobless benefits last week, down slightly from 1.57 million applications the week before.

Watch this space: The number of people applying for benefits via the government's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program increased by nearly 60,000 last week.

  • The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program saw claims rise by close to half a million for the week ended May 30.
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