1.9M Americans Filed for Jobless Aid Last Week as Unemployment Rate Falls to 13.3 Percent

The U.S. added 2.5 million jobs in May after having lost more than 20 million in April

U.S. Department of Labor
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty

While millions of Americans continued to file for jobless aid last week, the unemployment rate in the country surprisingly fell as restaurants, offices and stores began welcoming back workers and customers more than three months into the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday that nearly 1.9 million workers applied for unemployment benefits during the week ending May 30, but the overall U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May from 14.7 percent in April — the worst since monthly employment record-keeping began in 1948, CNN reported.

According to a Friday report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the month of May saw the economy add 2.5 million jobs after 20.7 million had been erased in April due to the national response to coronavirus, which caused the temporarily closure of business around the country to manage the spread of the disease.

More than 42 million people have applied for aid after losing their jobs when closures began in mid-March, the Associated Press reported. Now that states are starting the reopening process, some of those workers are being rehired.

"The big question is whether millions are still filing for unemployment due to separations that happened awhile ago or because of separations still happening today," Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork, a global freelancing platform, told the AP.

"The latter is far more problematic," he said of the possible business closures and cutbacks are still happening.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the industries that saw a recent uptick in their employment numbers were "leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and [the] retail trade."

Yet, employment in governmental positions continued to decline "sharply," the organization says.

"What this is telling us is that at least part of the pain in April was due to people being laid off or furloughed who still had very strong connections to their employers," economist Ernie Tedeschi told the New York Times of the news.

"As good and surprising as this report was, this may just be the low-hanging fruit," he continued. "These may have been the easiest workers to bring back."

President Donald Trump touted the unemployment numbers in a series of posts to Twitter on Friday morning. In one of the tweets, Trump congratulated himself by saying, "Really Big Jobs Report. Great going President Trump," before adding, "kidding but true."

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The news comes as the country has seen scores of protests following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

During a press conference on Friday, Trump said the drop in unemployment marked a "great day" for Floyd.

"We all saw what happened last week. We can't let that happen. Hopefully, George is looking down right now, and saying, 'This is a great thing that's happening for our country,'" Trump said. "This is a great day for him. It's a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality."

Trump's comments were quickly criticized.

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