First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by much less than expected in the week ended June 20th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims dropped to 1.480 million, a decrease of 60,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 1.540 million.
Economists had expected jobless claims to tumble to 1.300 million from the 1.508 million originally reported for the previous week.
Jobless claims pulled back further off the record high of 6.867 million set in late March, although the pace of decline has slowed considerably in the past two weeks.
The total number of initial jobless claims since the coronavirus-induced lockdowns began in March now exceeds 47 million.
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average of claims slid to 1,620,750, a decrease of 160,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,781,500.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also tumbled by 767,000 to 19.522 million in the week ended June 13. With the decrease, continuing claims hit their lowest level since mid-April but remain significantly elevated.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 20,421,250, a decrease of 329,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 20,751,000.
“While the number of continuing claims declined, suggesting some workers may be getting rehired, the recovery in the labor market will be slow and fitful,” said a note from economists at Oxford Economics.
Next Thursday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of June.