U.S. jobless claims continue gradual decline, remain elevated

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However, the figure is projected to be down slightly on the 1.88 million claims filed in the previous week.

Another 1.5 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, the US Department of Labor reported on Thursday.

"The steady retreat in claims is a positive development, but the labor market has suffered a traumatic blow, and a full recovery will be measured in years, not weeks or months", lead USA economist at Oxford Economics in New York Nancy Vanden Houten told Reuters, adding: "The figures don't capture the full extent of the blow dealt to workers during this unique crisis".

Continuing claims - the total number of Americans claiming ongoing unemployment benefits in state programs - decreased by less than estimated to 20.9 million in the week ended May 30.

"Initial jobless claims continued the gradual downward trend", Capital Economics wrote in a note Thursday.

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But despite last week's report, weekly unemployment claims remain historically high.

Despite the staggering unemployment figures, the stock market has been on a steady rise since reaching a four-year low in March. "Nevertheless, despite the discrepancy between the two measures, both tell the same broad story of a still near-unprecedented level of joblessness", the firm added. Georgia had 136,000, down from 149,000.

Labor officials said 3,000 of those claims were for state unemployment benefits, while the rest were for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This is a drop of 681 claims from the prior week's total of 1,498.

The report also comes a week after the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the U.S. unemployment rate actually fell a full percentage point - an encouraging sign for the economy.

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