Initial unemployment claims drop

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As the first phase of New York’s reopening in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region neared completion, weekly initial claims for unemployment benefits here fell to the lowest level since the pandemic shutdown began.

The latest numbers released by the state Labor Department show 4,413 new claims in the week ended May 30, compared with 9,860 in the prior week and down more than 80 percent from a peak of 25,037 in the week ended Mar. 28.

However, the latest number still was nearly 450 percent higher than the same week a year ago, and it brought the total to 129,213 initial filings since mid-March.

As they did in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region, initial jobless insurance claims fell sharply statewide.

The state defines the labor market here  as metropolitan Rochester—Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Wayne, Genesee, Livingston and Yates counties—plus Seneca and Wyoming counties.

More than two-thirds of the region’s initial claims in the latest period occurred in Monroe County. There were 3,129 new filings in the county, compared with 6,918 the week before and 485 a year ago.

Nationwide, the U.S. Labor Department’s latest weekly report showed another 1.9 million workers filed for unemployment benefits, a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week. Since March 21, the number of initial unemployment claims has reached more than 40 million.

But in a positive sign for the economy, the U.S. unemployment rate in May unexpectedly declined to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent in April, the federal government announced Friday morning. In response, the stock market jumped more than 700 points in early trading.

Monroe County’s jobless rate in April rose to 15 percent, up from 3.7 percent a year earlier. The numbers for May are not yet available.

Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor. All coronavirus articles are collected here.

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