First-Time Claims for Unemployment Insurance Decrease to New Pandemic-Era Low of 473,000

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A total of 473,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment insurance assistance for the week that ended May 8, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. These claims were a decrease of 34,000 from last week’s revised unemployment claims of 507,000 and were the lowest level the claims have been since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The claims are still double than what they were before the pandemic started.

Following government stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits, some employers have decided to pay their workers more, in order to incentivize them to stay working. By the end of June, Chipotle Mexican Grill says it plans to raise its hourly wages to $15 an hour, as well as a $200 employee referral bonus for current employees. McDonald’s has also announced it is raising the hourly wages for its U.S. company-owned restaurants by an average of 10 percent.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the week that ended April 17, 16.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits. The newspaper also reports that average hourly earnings have risen by 21 cents to $30.17 in April for private-sector employees.

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