A customer walks out of a U.S. Post Office branch in Seattle. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

Jobless claims fall, but remain sky-high

New claims for unemployment insurance benefits have fallen again, but they remain elevated, above 1.5 million, signaling that the economy is having difficulty isn’t absorbing new workers.

Initial claims were 1,508,000 for the week ending June 13, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.

In Ohio, 32,788 initial jobless claims were reported, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services called that “a sign that Ohioans are heading back to work.”

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Those who remain jobless filed 287,499 fewer continued claims last week compared to April’s peak, the state said.

Ohioans have filed 1,360,631 claims in the past 13 weeks, more than the combined total of those filed during the last three years, the state said.

In Montgomery County, there were 1,729 new claims for jobless benefits, with 23,684 claims ongoing.

Butler County saw 957 new claims with 14,430 claims continuing. Warren County reported 438 new and 7,384 ongoing claims.

And Clark County reported 464 new claims while 5,368 claims went to people who continued to be jobless.

Over the last 13 weeks, the state has distributed more than $4.1 billion in unemployment compensation to more than 700,000 claimants.

The state says more than 94% of claims for jobless benefits have been processed, with less than 6% pending. The state has also issued more than $2.1 billion in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments to more than 262,000 claimants.

Scott Murray, an economist with Nationwide, said it’s clear people are still struggling to find jobs.

“Significantly topping expectations, workers are finding little relief even as many states continue to reopen businesses,” Murray said in a note Thursday. “The further layoffs add to the struggle, creating a logjam of workers looking for opportunities and delaying the recovery from the shutdown.”

“The momentum in the labor market gained in May seems to have waned, suggesting that beating last month’s job gains will be difficult,” he added.

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