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Continuing Jobless Claims Show True Covid-19 Economic Damage

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Another 2.4 million Americans filed for first-time jobless claims last week, but in a more telling sign, more than 25 million are now filing for continuing jobless benefits - a sign of just how infectious the coronavirus pandemic has been on the U.S. labor market. 

The Labor Department said 2.438 million Americans filed jobless claims for the week ended May 16, even as parts of the U.S. economy slowly began to reopen after more than two months of being shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Economists had been expecting 2.375 million claims up to last Saturday, down from the previous week’s revised tally of 2.687 million.

Continuing claims, which is the number of people not just filing but staying on unemployment benefits, rose to a record 25 million for the week ended May 9. The continuing claims numbers are reported with a one-week lag, but are considered a better gauge of the labor market.

Weekly claims have been gradually declining since hitting a record 6.867 million in the week ended March 28, though economists and market-watchers are now looking more closely at continuing claims.

Last week’s filings bring the total number of people who have filed claims for unemployment benefits to about 39 million since March 21. 

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