Even as an increasing number of states began reopening their economies across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc on employment in the U.S. last week.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="An additional 2.438 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 16. Economists were expecting 2.4 million initial jobless claims during the week. The prior week’s figure was revised lower to 2.69 million from the previously reported 2.98 million. Over the past nine weeks, more than 38 million Americans have filed unemployment insurance claims.” data-reactid=”17″>An additional 2.438 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 16. Economists were expecting 2.4 million initial jobless claims during the week. The prior week’s figure was revised lower to 2.69 million from the previously reported 2.98 million. Over the past nine weeks, more than 38 million Americans have filed unemployment insurance claims.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Nevertheless, after hitting a record in the week ending March 28, the weekly initial jobless claims figure has been on a steady decline. Most states in recent weeks have seen substantial decreases in weekly claims.” data-reactid=”18″>Nevertheless, after hitting a record in the week ending March 28, the weekly initial jobless claims figure has been on a steady decline. Most states in recent weeks have seen substantial decreases in weekly claims.

In the week ending May 16, California reported the highest number of jobless claims at an estimated 246,000 on an unadjusted basis, up from 213,000 in the previous week. New York had 227,000, up from 199,000. Florida reported 224,000 and Georgia had roughly 177,000 jobless claims.

Continuing claims, which lags initial jobless claims data by one week, totaled a record 25.07 million in the week ending May 9 following 22.59 million in the previous week. Economists were estimating 24.25 million continuing claims for the week.

“One bright spot, however, was the nearly flat reading in continuing claims [in the week ending May 2], which serve as a gauge of (1) how quickly the economy can ramp up after states ‘re-open’ and (2) the efficacy of the PPP. The plateau in continuing claims is an early sign that employers are calling back employees,” Wells Fargo wrote in a note May 15.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="As of Thursday morning, there were more than 5 million coronavirus cases and 328,500 deaths worldwide, according to&nbsp;Johns Hopkins University data. In the U.S., there were 1.55 million cases and 93,400 deaths.” data-reactid=”22″>As of Thursday morning, there were more than 5 million coronavirus cases and 328,500 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data. In the U.S., there were 1.55 million cases and 93,400 deaths.

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter:&nbsp;@heidi_chung.” data-reactid=”24″>Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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