Many More Likely Sought US Jobless Aid Even as Layoffs Slow

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. government will issue its latest snapshot Thursday of the layoffs that have left millions unemployed but have slowed as businesses have increasingly reopened and rehired some of their laid-off workers.

The pace of job cuts has steadily declined in the three months since the coronavirus struck hard, forcing business closures and sending the economy into recession. The dwindling rate of jobless claims suggests that the devastation inflicted on the job market and the economy has bottomed out. Still, even by historical standards the number of weekly applications remains high.

The overall economy appears to have begun a slow recovery. Employers added 2.5 million jobs last month, and the unemployment rate declined from 14.7% to a still-high 13.3%. In addition, shoppers increased their retail purchases in May, retracing some of the record-setting plunges of the previous two months.

Many economists caution, though, that the economy will likely struggle to sustain its recent gains.