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New U.S. unemployment claims drop below 2 million, total claims top 42 million

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Dan McCaleb | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – The number of new unemployment claims filed last week dropped to 1.88 million, the first time weekly claims didn't exceed 2 million since mid-March.

Still, the total number of claims filed since government restrictions closed businesses deemed nonessential to slow the spread of COVID-19 surpassed 42 million in the 11 weeks since states began shutting down significant parts of their economy.

Last week, an additional 1.877 million workers filed new claims, according to U.S. Department of Labor data released Thursday, the 11th consecutive week in which new jobless claims were in the millions. That's down 324,750 from the 2.1 million workers who filed for benefits in the week ending May 23 and is the lowest number of new claims since the week ending March 15.

California once again led all states in new unemployment claims, with an additional 230,461 last week.

Even as much of the country eases restrictions and begins to open up, the number of unemployment claims remains high as businesses figure out their needs based on consumer demand during the pandemic.

“Many of the new claims reflect current layoffs, as the corporate sector more broadly begins to adjust to the altered outlook for the year ahead,” Lou Crandall, chief economist of Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey, told Reuters. “Even as the economy begins to reopen, new job losses continue to pile up.”