The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits topped 3 million for a seventh straight week, signaling little relief in sight for the economy since the coronavirus began closing restaurants, factories and offices from coast to coast in mid-March.

Initial jobless claims totaled 3.17 million in the week ended May 2 following 3.85 million in the prior week, according to a Labor Department report released Thursday. That brought the seven-week total to about 33.5 million. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 3 million last week.

Continuing claims, or the total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits, rose to a fresh record of 22.6 million in the week ended April 25. That, in turn, sent the insured unemployment rate, or the number receiving benefits as a share of the labor force based on eligibility, to 15.5%. Those data are reported with a one-week lag.

California, Texas and Georgia reported the highest levels of unadjusted initial claims last week. Most states posted declines from the prior week.

While jobless claims remain elevated, the weekly pace of filings is decelerating, suggesting the worst of the layoffs may be over as several states embark on limited reopenings of restaurants, retail shops and other businesses.

Stock investors appear to be largely looking past the plunge in employment. U.S. equities rose on Thursday with the Nasdaq Composite Index briefly turning positive for the year, demonstrating the appeal of technology shares. Treasury yields were little changed, though, at levels signaling growth will be relatively sluggish for years to come.

“A fifth consecutive weekly reduction in filings for unemployment benefits confirms the initial economic shock is subsiding, albeit at a slower-than-anticipated pace,” said Bloomberg economist Andrew Husby. “A turn lower in continuing claims would provide a clearer signal that the economy has reached a bottom, as it would indicate re-hiring of the temporarily unemployed.”

Even so, with no effective solution for the disease yet in sight, joblessness could broaden and persist as pullbacks in consumer and company spending ripple through the economy.

“Initial claims are only coming down slowly, and more slowly than we had anticipated previously,” Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc, said in a note. “The trend in claims points to upside risks to the unemployment rate and suggests federal resources in the CARES Act and other legislation have not been fully successful at keeping workers on payrolls.”

The April employment report, out Friday, will highlight the unprecedented depth of job losses captured in weeks of claims figures and offer a more detailed look at the breadth of the layoffs from mid-March to mid-April. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists calls for a staggering 21.3 million drop in payrolls and for the unemployment rate to jump to 16%, the highest in monthly records dating back to the 1940s.

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