In the week ending May 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 2,123,000, a decrease of 323,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 8,000 from 2,438,000 to 2,446,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,608,000, a decrease of 436,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 2,000 from 3,042,000 to 3,044,000.
At least the rises have stopped, but you're still talking more than 2 million people filing new claims, which is 3 times any week we had in the Great Recession. Just because it's less than what we've been seeing, it still doesn't mean that we aren't at Depression levels of filings.
But I've said the key stat to look at is continuing claims. At first glance, regular continuing claims also seemed to be going down at the end of May.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 14.5 percent for the week ending May 16, a decrease of 2.6 percentage points from the previous week's revised rate. The previous week's rate was revised down by 0.1 from 17.2 to 17.1 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 16 was 21,052,000, a decrease of 3,860,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised down by 161,000 from 25,073,000 to 24,912,000. The 4-week moving average was 22,722,250, an increase of 760,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised down by 40,250 from 22,002,250 to 21,962,000.
But there is an important context to have with this, as there are now millions of Americans receiving other types of unemployment claims outside of the regular state-based unemployment claims. One is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims, which give benefits to the self-employed and people in "gig economy" jobs where they are independent contractors. There also are Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claims, which allow for people to get compensation beyond 13 weeks.
Those numbers have increased in the last couple of months, and it gives a fuller picture of how many people are collecting unemployment. While the number dropped a bit last week, it was still over 30 million compared to 1.7 million before the COVID-19 pandemic struck full-force in mid-March.
Now that states and businesses are gradually reopening, let's see if the continuing claims number keeps falling in June, and how much it falls over time. And which of these unemployment claim programs go down, and which doesn't.
But what does seem certain is that this week's May jobs report will see another significant jump in the number of people out of work, likely by several millions. And many of the tens of millions of losses will not be back for a long time, if ever.