New jobless claims in the week ending May 22 dropped again — the fourth time in a row — coming in at 406,000, a decline of 38,000 from the previous week’s unrevised total of 444,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s latest weekly report on Thursday (May 27).
The advance number of unadjusted actual initial claims under state programs was 420,472 in the week ending May 22, down 34,131 from the previous week.
Continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending May 8 was 15.802 million, down roughly 175,255 from the previous week. By way of comparison, there were 31.578 million weekly claims for all programs during the same week last year.
A shortage of workers as the country reopens is prompting as many as 24 states to revert to a pre-pandemic level of benefits as soon as mid-June, Yahoo Finance reported. The federal expiration date for pandemic benefits is Sept. 6.
“No one knows for sure why people have been reluctant to return to the labor market — we’re assuming it is due to a combination of COVID fear, childcare difficulties, and the $300 per week federally-funded enhancement to unemployment benefits — but the numbers are huge,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note earlier in the week, per Yahoo Finance. “The labor force in April was some 5 million smaller than we would have expected if the pandemic hadn’t happened.”
Compared to the week ending May 7, 2020, new jobless claims were 3.169 million, down 677,000 from the previous week’s level of 3.846 million.
For the week ending May 13 of this year, new claims dropped 473,000, a new record low from the COVID-19 pandemic’s historic highs. This marked the lowest number of new claims since March 14, 2020, when it was 256,000, days before the pandemic took hold in the U.S.