May 21 (UPI) -- Another 2.4 million American workers have filed for new unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said in its weekly report Thursday.
The department reported the new figure at about 2.44 million, a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week, which was revised down Thursday by 294,000 claims.
Most economists had predicted about 2.4 million new claims.
Thursday's figure pushes the total number of Americans seeking new unemployment benefits to nearly 40 million over the last nine weeks. Last week, the department reported 3 million new claims, but Thursday's revision pushes the figure down to about 2.6 million.
In addition to claims filed through traditional unemployment programs, states have also reported more than 840,000 initial claims under the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Thursday's figure continued a decline in claims since nearly 7 million were filed in late March at the height of the coronavirus impact in the United States. All 50 U.S. states have instituted some form of economic reopening ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, but more than a dozen remain under stay-home orders.
The Labor Department said the unemployment rate reached 14.7 percent last month, and some economists expect it will rise again when the May jobs report comes in a couple weeks. Goldman Sachs said this week it expects the new figure to be 25 percent.