Roughly 24,500 new state and federal jobless claims were filed in ME last week as authorities continued to investigate widespread fraud within the state's unemployment insurance system.
The number of initial claims and individual claimants both decreased from the previous week, when the state reported about 37,000 initial unemployment claims filed by 24,500 individuals.
California recently borrowed $1.4 billion to cover claims, but paid it back last month with revenue from employers' unemployment taxes.
ME had uncovered and canceled at least 2,200 fraudulent claims and was investigating at least 1,000 more as of last Wednesday.
A pair of economists at the conservative Heritage Foundation found however, that in so doing Congress likely inflated nationwide unemployment by almost 14 million by incentivizing individuals to seek the government handout rather than remain in full-time employment.
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That marked an improvement from the record 14.7 percent unemployment seen in April and defied expectations for the virus-related job losses to worsen.
New claims for the week ending May 30 increased by 31,083 to 206,494 in the Sunshine State.
Before the pandemic, the USA unemployment rate stood at 3.5%, a 50-year low.
The weekly claims report "does give a pretty incomplete picture of exactly what unemployment looks like right now, and not even necessarily how many people have lost jobs, but how many people are just not earning an income that they were used to earning before", said Citigroup Inc. economist Veronica Clark. It's not unusual for states to borrow federal funds during economic downturns.
Torsten Slok, the chief economist at Deutche Bank Securities told the New York Times that the Labor Department's new data shows the job market "crawling out of the hole now". There were 302,260 continued claims for the week, down from 310,126 for the week ending May 23 and down from a high of 325,095 for the week ending May 9. "The unemployment rate will settle around 10%".