By Noreen Burke
Investing.com – The number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits totaled 3.17 million in the week ending May 2, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday, remaining at historic levels even as many parts of the country start to reopen.
Continuing claims, which record the number of people already receiving benefits increased to a new record 22.64 million in the week ending April 25, the report said, up from 18.01 million a week earlier. Continuing claims data is reported with a one-week lag.
Analysts polled by Investing.com had expected initial jobless claims to fall to 3 million and continuing claims to rise to 19.91 million.
It was the fifth straight weekly decrease in jobless claims applications since they hit a record 6.8 million in the week ended March 28 amid statewide lockdowns aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Even with the economy slowly starting to reopen, the number of unemployed should continue to rise sharply as governments, as well as businesses that have tried but not succeeded at holding the line, are now laying off workers,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania.
“The pace of new claims for unemployment is slowing but remains at levels unimaginable just a few months ago.”
The figures come a day after ADP data showing that the private sector shed a record 20 million jobs last month and ahead of the Labor Department’s nonfarm payrolls report for April on Friday, which is expected to show unprecedented job losses.
Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari said Thursday that the upcoming nonfarm payrolls data is likely to understate the number of jobs lost because many people are not actively searching for new work.
Kashkari said the reported unemployment rate could be as high as 17%, but the true unemployment rate may be as high as 23%. “That bad report tomorrow is actually going to understate how bad the damage has been,” he said.
–Reuters contributed to this report
U.S. Initial Jobless Claims Total 3.17 Million in Latest Week
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