For the 10th straight week, weekly initial claims for unemployment have totaled in the millions.
On Thursday, the Department of Labor reported that 2.1 million people filed initial claims for unemployment for the week ending May 23. In the last 10 weeks, 40 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment.
Thursday's report marked the eighth straight week in declining unemployment figures, but unemployment claims remain historically high. Prior to the pandemic, the record high for weekly unemployment claims came in 2006, when 665,000 people filed for unemployment. The Department of Labor has been tracking the statistics since 1967.
While economists often use weekly unemployment figures to gauge how many Americans lost their jobs, surveys suggest that these figures are underestimating the true number of Americans who have lost their jobs in the pandemic. One survey from the Economic Policy Institute found that millions of Americans gave up trying to seek benefits or didn't even attempt to due to states' overwhelmed and antiquated unemployment systems.
Despite the staggering unemployment figures, the stock market has been on a steady rise since reaching a four-year low in March. Markets have been buoyed by stimulus from the Federal Reserve and Congress and encouraging reports from health experts regarding the potential development of a vaccine.