Another 2.1 million more Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.
This pushes the total number of U.S. workers who have filed jobless claims to 40 million over the last 10 weeks as the coronavirus pandemic brought much of the U.S. economy to a standstill.
While new filings have eased slightly after peaking at nearly 7 million in the last week of March, jobless claims have remained in the millions each week for over two months.
"Although initial claims are declining, the pace may only be plateauing," Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao said in a commentary Thursday morning. "If UI claims remain in the millions for the next few weeks, it may signal that relaxed state-mandated restrictions alone aren’t enough to staunch the flow of unemployed Americans."
"The sustained level of elevated UI claims seen this month is a likely indicator that next week’s May jobs report will show a jump in the unemployment rate into the high teens or beyond," he added. "The May jobs report is unlikely to show as stark a change as April’s historically grim report; however, it will show a labor market still deep in the grips of the pandemic."
The current unemployment rate in the U.S. is nearly 15%, according to the April jobs report, marking the highest point since the Great Depression. Many economists expect that number to climb in the coming weeks as new unemployment filings continue to roll in.
Prior to the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 3.5%.
Some of the hardest hit industries include hospitality, food and drink services and retail.