June 11 (UPI) -- The Labor Department said in its weekly report Thursday 1.5 million Americans have filed new unemployment claims.
The department said the figure is a decrease of 355,000 from the previous week. The report also revised last week's figure up to 1.9 million new claims.
Thursday's unemployment report is the first since the department surprised Wall Street last week by saying the U.S. economy added 2 1/2 million jobs in the month of May. Analysts expected May to see a loss of between 7-8 million jobs. The unemployment rate also fell last month to 13.3 percent.
Economists predicted Thursday's assessment to report another 1.6 million jobless claims.
Continuing claims, which lag initial jobless claims data by one week, were expected to total 20 million for the week ending May 30, down from 21.5 million in the prior week.
U.S. unemployment claims peaked in April at 6.6 million for two weeks in a row and the department said a record 20 million U.S. workers lost their jobs during the month.
Economists are eyeing this week's jobless figures as they relate to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers "gig economy" and self-employed workers ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits.
PUA claims fell last week from 1.3 million to about 623,000, signaling that the labor impact of the COVID-19 outbreak may have reached a bottom. Continuing PUA declines, the Commerce Department said last week, would further "increase our conviction in the labor market stabilization and suggest processing backlogs have been cleared."
Wednesday, the Federal Reserve indicated that the economic toll of the pandemic is likely to remain in some form for at least two years. It projected an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent by the end of 2020 and overall contraction of 6.5 percent for the year.
World moves to reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (L) passes out face masks when he arrives at Grand Central Station to attend a nearby press conference to enter phase 1 of a four-part reopening plan in New York City on June 8. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo