First-Time Jobless Claims Fall to Pandemic-Era Low While Hiring Rises

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer June 3, 2021
forlorn woman

​States reported that 385,000 workers filed for new unemployment benefits during the week ending May 29, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised level and the lowest level of initial claims since Mar. 2020. The total number of workers continuing to claim state unemployment benefits rose to 3.7 million. In addition, employers hired nearly 1 million new workers in May, the largest jobs gain since June 2020, according to just-released data from ADP. The lion’s share of those new hires were in leisure and hospitality.

Even though weekly jobless claims are improving, employers are reporting labor supply shortages. Some economists have pointed to enhanced unemployment benefits and expanded eligibility for benefits as factors contributing to these shortages, especially in the services sector. For that reason, at least 25 states are cutting off access to federal benefits this summer, before the program's Sept. expiration.

About 15.4 million people overall are receiving some type of unemployment aid. That includes about 11.5 million people enrolled in emergency programs such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for gig workers and the self-employed and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which offers an additional 24 weeks of benefits. Both programs are slated to be eliminated by half the states in June and July.



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