The coronavirus crisis has put more than 40 million Americans out of work, according to new federal data showing another 2.1 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week.
The workers sidelined by the pandemic in the past 10 weeks now outnumber the entire population of California and account for roughly 26 percent of the American workforce.
Thursday’s seasonally adjusted figures from the US Department of Labor showed the pace of initial jobless claims continuing their steady decline since late March. Economists were expecting 2.1 million claims for last week, down from 2.4 million the week before.
“The pace of the declines has been stubbornly slow, but could accelerate given tentative signs of small businesses rehiring as the economy gradually reopens,” Bloomberg economist Eliza Winger said in a commentary.
The number of people filing continuing claims for benefits also fell for the first time since the pandemic began to gut the labor market, a positive sign as states began to ease restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus. There were about 21 million in the week ending May 16, down from a record 24.9 million the prior week, the feds said.
The latest data came ahead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics closely watched monthly jobs report for May, which will be released next Friday. April’s report showed the economy shedding a record 20.5 million jobs as the pandemic forced businesses to close and lay off workers.
With Post wires