The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits was 2.1 million last week, the lowest number since the coronavirus crisis began, but still three times higher than the peak during the global financial crisis.

Yes, but: The number of continuing jobless claims fell by 3.86 million on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week of May 9–May 16, suggesting many Americans are going back to work.

What they're saying: "The jobless claims 'curves' are bending," Ellis Phifer, managing director of fixed income research at Raymond James, says in a note to clients. "I’d say that’s pretty encouraging."

But, but, but: "To get a more complete picture, we need to take into account the number of people claiming benefits under the CARES Act," Phifer notes.

  • In 33 states, 7.8 million people are receiving benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and about 222,000 have claims for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program in 22 states.

What it means: Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, notes that 19.1 million workers were on continued claims as of May 16, and 4.1 million more have filed initial state unemployment claims since then.

  • Add those to the PUA numbers for initial and continued claims and it equals a total of "34.2 million workers who are either on unemployment benefits, or have applied very recently and are waiting to get approved," she says on Twitter.

Go deeper

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.

16 mins ago - Health

Top business leaders urge White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines

A man walks past a Ramen restaurant in Los Angeles, California on July 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Retail Federation and other top business organizations wrote an open letter on Thursday urging the White House coronavirus task force to work with governors to make face coverings mandatory in all public spaces.

Driving the news: An analysis led by Goldman Sachs' chief economist found that a national mandate requiring face coverings would "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the Washington Post reports.

Updated 46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 10,763,604 — Total deaths: 517,667 — Total recoveries — 5,522,094Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 2,715,124 — Total deaths: 128,439 — Total recoveries: 729,994 — Total tested: 32,827,359Map.
  3. Public health: What we know about the immune response to coronavirus and what it means for a vaccine.
  4. Politics: Herman Cain hospitalized for COVID-19 after attending Trump Tulsa rally — Biden downplays jobs number, rebukes Trump for ignoring health crisis.
  5. States: Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases — 5 states saw 27% spike in heart-related deaths in first 3 months of coronavirus pandemic.