Jobless claims hit pandemic low, private-sector payrolls surge past expectations

The number of Americans filing for first-time jobless claims fell to a pandemic low last week, according to the Labor Department. 

Data released Thursday showed 385,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended May 29, below the 390,000 that analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were anticipating. The prior week’s reading was revised down by 1,000 to 405,000. 

Continuing claims for the week ended May 22, meanwhile, rose to 3.771 million, above the 3.615 million that was expected. Last week’s reading was revised lower to 3.602 million from 3.642 million.

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Separately, U.S. private-sector job growth accelerated in May as the labor market continued to rebound from its COVID-19-induced slowdown, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

Private-sector payrolls grew by 978,000 workers last month, an improvement from the downwardly revised addition of 654,000 for April. Economists surveyed by Refintiv were expecting a decline to 650,000 new jobs. 

“Private payrolls showed a marked improvement from recent months and the strongest gain since the early days of the recovery,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP.

Small, medium and large-sized businesses all record strong job growth with the majority of gains came from the service sector, which added 850,000 workers. Job gains within services were strongest in leisure & hospitality (+440,000) education & health (+139,000) and trade, transportation and utilities (+118,000). Information (-3,000) was the only subsector to see job losses. 

The goods-producing sector, meanwhile, saw an increase of 128,000 private-sector workers with construction (+65,000), manufacturing (+52,000) and natural resources and mining (+11,000), all seeing gains. 

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The nonfarm payroll report for May is due out Friday with economists surveyed by Refinitiv expecting the addition of 650,000 jobs as the unemployment rate declined to 5.9%. April’s report disappointed with just 266,000 jobs added, missing the 978,000 that was expected, as the unemployment rate rose to 6.1%. 

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