Weekly Jobless Claims Bode Well for Recovery

June 11, 2020

Continued unemployment claims fell slightly while weekly initial claims declined for the tenth straight week, dropping the estimated U.S. unemployment rate to 19.3% amid the coronavirus pandemic. The combination of the jobless claims trend and employment gains in May suggest a recovery is underway.

Unemployment Claims Week Ending June 6

Initial Weekly UI Claims Drop

For the week ending June 6, the U.S. Labor Department said initial unemployment claims receded again, with 1.5 million initial claims filed, indicating more people are returning to work. The trend was also evident in the 2.5 million jobs the economy added in May. As states reopen, creating opportunity for workers to return, the number of continued claims fell slightly, from 21.3 million to 20.9 million for the week ending May 30. The estimated U.S. unemployment rate is now 19.3%, down from 23.1% in the previous week.

UI Initial and Continued Claims June 6 second

The seasonally adjusted initial claims for the week ending May 30 were revised up by 20,000 to 1.9 million. Combined with pre-pandemic and continued claims, the estimated number of unemployed people in the U.S. currently sits between 30.5 million and 44.2 million.

Weekly Initial Claims

Below are the states that have the largest drop in initial unemployment claims during the week ending June 6.

UI State Claims Graph

Claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are now being distributed to gig, self-employed and contract workers. For the week ending June 6, Arizona (+96,399), New York (+81,205) and California (+71,229) saw the largest number of PUA claims. These claims, considered an alternative program, are not included in the overall UI figures.

The Future of the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit

The $600 supplemental unemployment benefit is set to expire on July 31. As the nation reopens and rehiring begins, the implications of a decision by lawmakers whether to extend the benefit are not clear cut. While the benefit gives a boost to consumer spending, it can also deter people from seeking employment.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that five in six recipients would receive more benefits than they would earn from working. A CBO report lays out the impacts on the second half of 2020 through 2021, explaining the pros and cons of extending the benefit period through the end of this year. The additional $600 per week from the benefit gives more incentive for workers to remain unemployed than to return to their former jobs. This could make it difficult for hiring managers to fill available positions as demand increases.


With all 50 states implementing post-COVID-19 reopening plans, initial jobless claims for June should hover around 5.4 million. Claims are expected to continue declining to an average of 1.25 million weekly, depending on the rehiring rate. A deceleration in initial claims is forecasted to continue through June and July. The more impactful number to watch will be continued claims, where a decrease will signal that people are returning to work.

ThinkWhy continuously monitors and forecasts labor data at all levels, measuring impact to MSAs and businesses across the country. Stay current with us. We are here to support organizations and provide insights during the economic downturn as well as the recovery phase.