The Labor Department released unemployment data today.

For the week ending May 2 – 34,000 fewer people filed first time unemployment insurance claims. The total number, on a seasonally adjusted basis was 601,000.

Some media are reporting this decline shows that job cuts may be easing. I hope that’s true. In the case of many economic indicators and recession eases, it’s hard to know for sure until many months later.

The total number of people who are collecting unemployment rose to 6,351,000 for the week ending April 25, an increase of 56,000 from the week before.

For the week ending April 18, the top 10 states for unemployment benefits were:

  1. Oregon 7.6 percent
  2. Michigan 7.2 percent
  3. Wisconsin 6.6 percent
  4. Pennsylvania 6.5 percent
  5. Idaho & Nevada (tie) 6.4 percent
  6. Rhode Island 6.1 percent
  7. New Jersey & Vermont (tie) 5.8 percent
  8. Alaska 5.7 percent

For the week ending April 25, nearly 10,000 auto workers in Michigan filed for unemployment benefits. More than 4,200 people filed for first time benefits in Massachusetts, due to seasonal school closings.

May 7, 2009