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Another 1.5 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims the week ending June 6, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That brings the total jobless claims since the start of the coronavirus shutdowns to a whopping 44.2 million.
Before the shutdowns, the U.S. hadn’t experienced one week with over a million jobless claims. Now we are at 12 straight weeks with unemployment claims topping a million.
But as those unemployment claims continue to mount, the total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits—continued claims—actually fell another 339,000, to 20.9 million. As more states ease their lockdowns, the number of out-of-work Americans on the unemployment rolls has fallen 4 million from its peak of 24.9 million on May 9.
That drop in the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits is a sign that employers are bringing workers back, and the economy is growing again. Coupled with the unemployment rate dropping from 14.7% in April to 13.3% in May, it points to the economy swinging from recession to growth.
While 44.2 million have claimed unemployment benefits at some point during the pandemic, only 20.9 million are currently receiving the benefits. The reason for the huge gap? Workers put on furlough, even for just a week, can apply for jobless benefits, and employers in reopened states are bringing workers back. Some states are also still wading through their backlog of applicants.
Pennsylvania saw the biggest weekly decline in unemployment rolls at –165,571. It was followed by Texas (–160,309), Michigan (–90,913), and Maryland (–85,994). Those declines are spurred by reopening in the respective states. However, upticks in coronavirus cases could put those gains at risk.
Americans currently on the unemployment rolls are receiving an additional $600 weekly in benefits on top of their state benefits through the end of July. But with waning political support and an improving economy, it’s unlikely those benefits will get extended.