U.S. states saw the fewest new unemployment claims since March 2020 last week, with initial filings down for a sixth straight week as economic activity picked up further.
The Department of Labor released its weekly report on new jobless claims on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Here were the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg:
Initial jobless claims, week ended June 5: 376,000 vs. 370,000 expected and an unrevised 385,000 last week
Continuing claims, week ended May 22: 3.499 million vs. 3.665 million expected and a revised 3.757 million last week
Economists expected new filings would come in below the psychologically important level of 400,000 for a back-to-back week and came ever-closer to their pre-pandemic average of just over 200,000 per week.
Jobless claims have also set new pandemic-era lows for each of the past five consecutive weeks, trending lower in tandem with rising labor demand during the recovery.
Despite the drop in headline new unemployment claims, the total number of individuals still claiming unemployment benefits has remained elevated, exacerbating concerns over widespread labor shortages.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said earlier this week that job openings in April surged to a record high of more than 9 million.
A separate survey found that a record share of small business owners reported being unable to fill open positions in May.
During the week ended May 15, the number of Americans claiming benefits across all unemployment programs totaled 15.4 million, dipping by about 366,000 from the prior week.
Notably, the number of Americans claiming benefits through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs has been especially high. About 11.7 million individuals were claimants of these programs as of the week ended May 15, or roughly unchanged from the prior week.
About two dozen states are ending federal pandemic-era benefits early, or before their national expiration date of Sept. 6.
A handful of these states – including Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Missouri – are ending some or all of these programs as soon as the end of this week, with state officials hoping to incentivize Americans to rejoin the workforce in absence of enhanced unemployment benefits.