Weekly Jobless Claims, Unemployment Rate Decline Again

June 4, 2020
Author: Stephanie Ludwigsen

Continued unemployment claims held steady while weekly initial claims declined for the ninth straight week, dropping the estimated U.S. unemployment rate to 23.1% in the wake of COVID-19.

Weekly UI Claims Week Ending May 30

Initial Weekly UI Claims Drop

For the week ending May 30, the U.S. Labor Department said initial unemployment claims receded again, with 1.877 million initial claims filed, indicating people are returning to work. Continued claims rose slightly, from 20.8 to 21.4 million for the week ending May 23. Even with this nominal increase, the unemployment rate dropped. The estimated U.S. unemployment rate is now 23.1%, down from 23.8% in the previous week.

UI Initial Claims 6.4 (1)

The seasonally adjusted initial claims for the week ending May 23 were revised up by 3,000 to 2.126 million. Combined with pre-pandemic and continued claims, the projected number of unemployed people in the U.S. currently sits between 36.0 million and 42.6 million.

UI Initial Claims 6.4.20

Below are the states with the highest and lowest unemployment rates in April – the latest month for which figures are available – showing their status with unemployment Continuing Advance Claims (CAC):

State UI Rates 6.4

Claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are now being distributed to gig, self-employed and contract workers. For the week ending May 30, Pennsylvania (+94,601), Michigan (+79,045) and California (+72,785) saw the largest number of PUA claims. These claims, considered an alternative program, are not included in the overall UI figures.

Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits Triggered in Several States

In early May, Nevada’s State Unemployment Insurance Extended Benefits trigger was reached, expanding benefits for much of the state’s unemployed population. In the past week, three additional states have triggered their State Extended Benefits. Wisconsin, Iowa and, most recently, Texas, have all reached the threshold that allows each state to extend federally funded unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks. These benefits extend past the normal 26-week and extended 13-week allotment, now totaling 52 weeks of benefits in these states. Those receiving PUA are not eligible for extended benefits.


With all 50 states implementing post-COVID-19 reopening plans, initial jobless claims for June should hover around 7.5 million. Claims are expected to continue declining to an average of 1.75 million weekly, depending on the rehiring rate for the temporarily unemployed. A substantial deceleration in initial claims is forecasted to continue through June and July. The more impactful number to watch will be continued claims, which 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.