Last week, just as some states began to reopen their economies, U.S. jobless claims continued to pile up.
Continuing claims struck 22.65 million — up from 18.01 million the previous week and far more than the 19.91 million forecasted. However, that figure’s growth may be slowing.
Initial jobless claims fell from 3.85 million to 3.17 million last week, just above the 3 million expected and far less than the 6.9 million filed at the end of March.
“The decline has been sharp, which raises the possibility that we reached the bottom quickly,” Michael Moran, an economist at Daiwa Capital Markets, told The Wall Street Journal.
More than 33 million Americans have applied for unemployment since the state shutdowns began. With the four-week average jobless claims at 4.17 million, economists anticipate a record unemployment rate in Friday’s April economic report.
In conjunction with the jobless claims, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that non-farm productivity fell 2.5% quarter-over-quarter. That figure was far better than economists had expected (down 5.5%) but significantly worse than the previous period’s 1.2% rise. It reflected a 6.2% decline in output and 3.8% decrease in hours worked.