Initial claims for unemployment for regular state programs totaled 1.88 million for the week ended May 30, according to the Labor Department. (This total does not include self-employed or gig workers that are now receiving unemployment under newly passed coronavirus rescue legislation. I’m tracking the state numbers because that let’s me do apples to apples comparisons with past data.)
That was slightly above the 1.83 million claims projected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
And it was a drop from 2.13 million the prior week and the first weekly total below 2 million since coronavirus job losses started in March.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 22.4 million from 22.7 million, the first decline during the pandemic.
The average initial claims number for a week prior to the pandemic and the coronavirus recession was in the vicinity of 200,000 to 250,000. For example, in the week ended March 14, 2020, the total new claims for unemployment totaled just 232,500.
The stock market didn’t jump for joy at the numbers and has in fact slipped further into negative territory as the day wore on. The Standard & Poor’s 500, for example, was off 0.52% at 1:20 and 0.90% at 3:15 p.m. New York time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 0.58% at 3:15 p.m.
The sort of slide isn’t exactly a huge move for the markets. There was more movement among emerging market stocks with the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) down 1.73% at 3:15 p.m. Gold rose by 1.01%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.81%. It had been at 0.67% on Monday.
Tomorrow, Friday, we get the May jobs report. Economists are projecting that the economy los another 8 million jobs and that the unemployment rate will climb to 19.5%.