Initial claims for regular state unemployment insurance totaled 406,000 for the week ending May 22, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week’s tally of 444,000 (see first chart). The current result is the fourth consecutive decline and the sixth in the last seven weeks. The favorable results are a clear indication of the strengthening labor market and overall economy.
The four-week average fell 46,000 to 458,750, the seventh consecutive decline and the 15th drop over the last 16 weeks. Initial claims are likely to continue trending lower as the combination of vaccine distribution and easing government restrictions on consumers and businesses support rising economic activity.
The number of ongoing claims for state unemployment programs totaled 3.645 million for the week ending May 8, a drop of 23,826 from the prior week. The latest reading is the seventh consecutive week below 4 million (see second chart).
Continuing claims in all federal programs totaled 12.157 million for the week ending May 8, an decrease of 151,429. Since the beginning of June 2020, continuing claims in all Federal programs have been in the 12 to 16 million range, averaging 13.890 million (see second chart).
The total number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs including all emergency programs was 15.802 million for the week ended May 8, down 175,255 from the prior week and just the second week below 16 million since the pandemic began (see second chart).