SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The U.S. Department of Labor announced new unemployment numbers today - almost 2 million people across the nation filed new claims the last week of May.

This marked the lowest totals since the coronavirus pandemic began.

A local economics expert told Western Mass News that the new numbers show we may have seen the worst of the initial unemployment claims.

"We don’t think it’s going to get much worse, but we’re also not saying it’s going to get much better very quickly," said Western New England University's professor Karl Petrick.

The U.S. Department of Labor released new unemployment data for the last week of May - showing 1.9 million Americans filed claims - the lowest numbers since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.

In Massachusetts, over 27, 000 people filed claims from May 24 until May 30, which is a decrease of over 10,000 from the previous week.

"These could be people that have been unemployed for a while and are finally signing on because they have to. It could be still a measurement of the backlog in some states at least because of the number of people that have claimed. So they’re not necessarily people that have been laid off last week," Petrick explained.

Across the country, more than 40 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since March and now...about 21.5 million are currently receiving benefits.

"Hopefully that means these people have managed to find jobs," Petrick said.

With phase two reopening plan tentatively scheduled to begin Monday - many businesses are preparing to reopen their doors and bring back staff members.

"We’re looking at at least 15 server bartender food runners [and] bus services. We need to keep the place clean and sanitize it in between shifts and make sure that we’re staffed up and ready to go for people that are coming out," said Max Tavern's co-general manager John Thomas.

Thomas told Western Mass News over the phone that he's only able to bring back half of his staff for outdoor dining, but looks forward to bringing back everyone when indoor dining is allowed.

"It seems to have hit the restaurant business quite hard and this is our family. We need to make sure that they’re taken care of as much as we can," Thomas explained.

The May unemployment report is expected to come out tomorrow, predicting numbers higher than during the Great Depression.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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(1) comment

Bluemoon

I can speak from experience

When filing here in Massachusetts a question for eligibility was removed. By doing so, the state effectively REMOVED anyone who qualified by answering "yes" to that question.

Thusly, the numbers are skewed and inaccurate.

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