Jobless Claims Hold at Near 1.5 Million as Rehiring Efforts Stall

The number of Americans receiving jobless benefits was near 1.5 million again last week as businesses continue to struggle with reopening and rehiring.

The number of Americans seeking and receiving unemployment benefits clocked in at near 1.5 million again last week as businesses continue to struggle with reopening and rehiring after more than three months of being either partially or completely shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Labor Department said Thursday that 1.48 million Americans filed jobless claims for the week ended June 20, down slightly from the revised 1.5 million claims for the week earlier, as U.S. employers continue to face the daunting task of reopening and rehiring amid the most dramatic economic shutdown and attempted reboot on record.

Economists polled by FactSet had been expecting 1.325 million claims up to last Saturday.

Continuing claims, which is the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, came in at at 19.5 million for the week ended June 13. The continuing claims numbers are reported with a one-week lag, but are considered a better gauge of the labor market.

Through the week ending Jun 6, some 46 states reporting 11,046,401 individuals claiming Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, and 38 states reporting 851,983 individuals claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits.

The number of applications for benefits has slowly decreased from a late March peak of close to 7 million but still remains well above anything seen in history - roughly 1.5 million a week in recent weeks.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 13 were in Oklahoma (+7,254), Texas (+5,047), New Jersey (+3,272), New York (+1,351), and Louisiana (+1,243), while the largest decreases were in Florida (-24,013), Maryland (-18,188), Massachusetts (-14,731), California (-14,412), and Michigan (-6,543).

Some signs of economic growth have emerged, including a May rebound in retail spending. At the same time, an uptick in new Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations over the past week has cast doubt on whether some businesses are opening too soon, in turn raising the specter that companies may continue to push off rehiring plans.

That was not the case in May, when government data showed a shocking rebound in new positions and a rebound in the unemployment rate to 13.3% following April's unprecedented job losses and record-high jobless rate. 

The Labor Department will publish data on June hiring next week.

Meantime, iconic department store chain Macy's (M) - Get Report announced Thursday plans to cut nearly 4,000 jobs as it moves to lower costs and streamline its business following store closures linked to the coronavirus pandemic.