The number of jobs lost due to the coronavirus shutdown continue to mount, with the latest weekly total of Americans applying for unemployment benefits topping 2 million, yet again. Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman and Heidi Chung discuss.
ZACK GUZMAN: But first, want to start the show with the update we got on the unemployment front because there is a bit of a pro/con there to discuss. Of course 2 million Americans filing for unemployment not good, but when you look at continuing claims, that fell for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic. And for more on I guess the bull-bear discussion that we should be having here, I want to bring on Yahoo Finance's Heidi Chung with more on that report. Heidi?
HEIDI CHUNG: Good afternoon, Zack. Yeah, the US economy is certainly in focus today specifically taking a look at the US labor market. Like you mentioned, another 2.12 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week, which was [INAUDIBLE] higher than expectations for 2.1 million initial jobless claims. The prior week's figure was revised higher to 2.45 million from the previously reported 2.44 million.
Now over the past 10 weeks, Zack, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. But like you mentioned, perhaps a bright spot in today's report, the first weekly decline in continuing claims since the COVID-19 pandemic tore through the US. Continuing claims, which lags initial job claims data by one week, totaled 21.05 million in the week ending May 16, which is down from the prior week's record 24.91 million. Consensus estimates were for 25.68 million continuing claims for the week.
Now economists pointing out that even as the number of continuing claims are still near record highs, it is a positive sign to see this decrease. But it will be important to keep in mind here that if this-- it'll be important to keep in mind to pay attention, if this weekly decline marks a true turnaround here in the data.
But looking at the states here that recorded the highest initial jobless claims last week, California once again with the highest number of claims at an estimated 212,000 on an unadjusted basis. That is down from 244,000 in the previous week. New York had 192,000 claims, which is down from 244,000. We have Florida reporting 174,000 and Georgia with roughly 164,000 [INAUDIBLE] claims. Now all four of those states reporting declines week over week.
Another important figure that we have been paying close attention to is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program figures. The PUA number includes people who were previously uneligible for the unemployment insurance, such as those that are self-employed and contract. In the week ending May 23, the Labor Department reported 1.19 million initial PUA claims following 1.2 million in the week prior, so relatively steady there week over week.
Again, if we see a huge change in that number, either a spike up or down, it would be significant, Zack. Next week, though, we do have the monthly BLS May jobs report. Another ugly number is expected on that front. Right now the average economist estimate is for unemployment rate to surge to 19.5% from 14.7% in April. Zack.
ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, I mean, just to continue your point there, when we think about the states hardest hit here, as you highlighted, some of those numbers, of course we always look at the weekly updates we get there. Georgia still maintaining its I guess-- I don't know if you want to say it's a good title to have here, but clearly the most impact when you look at the unemployment claims surge since this began. When you average out the surge in initial claims-- of course continuing claims are a little bit different there-- but over 400,000%, the spike there. Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, and Virginia rounding out the top five hardest hit.
Also again, we did get the update in terms of insured unemployment rates on a state-by-state basis. That worth highlighting, as always. When we look at that, Washington now is showing a more than 30% insured unemployment rate, the largest for any state out there. Of course, these numbers will change as we move along, but that's the case right now. Appreciate you, Heidi Chung, for bringing us the update on the unemployment front.