(Rachel Maddow Blog)
For the the week ending May 19, seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits were 370,000, the Department of Labor announced
Thursday morning. This marked a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 372,000. The four-week moving average, which flattens volatility in the weekly numbers, was also 370,000, a decrease of 5,500 from the previous week's revised average of 375,500.
For all programs, including the federal government's emergency extensions for states hardest hit by the Great Recession, the total number of people claiming benefits for the week ending May 5 was 6,168,620, a decrease of 105,004 from the previous week. Extended benefits were available in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia.
Because of a budget deal in Congress, more and more Americans who have been employed for more than six months will be losing their unemployment benefits from now until September because the number of weeks they are eligible to receive them is dropping from 99 to 63. In addition, the unemployment rate in some states where joblessness was high enough to trigger various levels of extended benefits has fallen below that threshold. Even in states where this is not the case, hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans are losing their benefits as they reach the end of their eligibility.
The first-time claims figure released each week is an "advance" number, which is revised the following week when statistics are improved by better information from the states. For instance, the advance figure for the week ending May 12 was 370,000 and revised this week to 372,000. Over the past seven months, since Nov. 5, the revisions have been upward for 23 weeks and downward for five weeks. During that period, the average revision has been about 3 percent.