More than 1.5 million American workers filed jobless claims last week as the coronavirus crisis wages on, the Department of Labor said Thursday, the fewest number of filings since the crisis began.
The number of new unemployment filings has leveled off since peaking in late March even though millions of workers are still out of work as pandemic restrictions ease and states begin to reopen.
Still, some 43 million American workers have filed for unemployment insurance since mid-March. COVID-19 has pushed the U.S. unemployment rate to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim devastating tolls in lives and lost economic output, the elevated level of new jobless claims at 1.5 million serves as a reminder that this two-sided crisis is very much persisting," Mark Hamrick, Bankrate's senior economic analyst, said Thursday in a note. "New claims have topped 1 million for 12 straight weeks. That’s in contrast to fewer than 300,000 new claims in mid-March before the crisis took hold."
He went on, "As we look for signs that the worst of the downturn might be behind, new claims have declined for 10 straight weeks along with a drop in continuing claims. But the situation remains dire with the nation’s unemployment rate in the double-digits and joblessness disproportionately affecting women, blacks, hispanics and teenagers."
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it expects the unemployment rate to remain elevated in the near future, at 9.3% through 2020, 6.5% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022.
Prior to the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 3.5%.