Initial claims for regular state unemployment insurance totaled 473,000 for the week ending May 8, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised tally of 507,000 (see first chart). The current result is the fifth consecutive week below the 700,000 to 900,000 range and lowest level since March 14, 2020. The favorable results suggest an improving outlook for the labor market and overall economy.
The four-week average fell 28,250 to 534,000, the fifth consecutive week below 700,000 and second week below 600,000. Initial claims are likely to continue trending lower as the combination of vaccine distribution and easing government restrictions on consumers and businesses push the economy closer to pre-pandemic levels of activity.
The number of ongoing claims for state unemployment programs totaled 3.767 million for the week ending April 24, a rise of 11,245 from the prior week. The latest reading is the fifth consecutive week below 4 million but the first increase since February 20th (see second chart).
Continuing claims in all federal programs totaled 13.087 million for the week ending April 24, an increase of 684,727. Since the beginning of June 2020, continuing claims in all Federal programs have been in the 12 to 16 million range, averaging 13.960 million (see second chart).
The total number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs including all emergency programs was 16.855 million for the week ended April 24, up 696,152 from the prior week. Total claims have been in the 16 to 20 million range since November, averaging 18.382 million (see second chart).