New Hampshire last week notched its sixth straight weekly decline in the number of new jobless claims.
But the number of people with active claims decreased last week for the first time since mid-March, an indication that part of the state’s shuttered economy is reopening.
“That says they’re going back to work,” said Richard Lavers, deputy commissioner at Employment Security.
There were 115,267 active claims for the week ending May 16, down from 117,438 the prior week.
For the week ending May 16, there were 8,333 first-time filers — more than the population of Hollis, according to the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday, down from the revised 10,016 for the previous week.
Laconia economist Russ Thibeault called the improvement in new filings “painstakingly slow.”
More than 191,000 people have applied for new unemployment benefits in New Hampshire in the past nine weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. Not everyone who files is deemed qualified, and some people have returned to part-time or full-time work since filing.
The record week ending April 4 saw 39,202 file fresh jobless claims.
Thursday’s number comes two days after the state reported a record unemployment rate for April, 17.2%, with 122,570 residents unemployed.
The coronavirus pandemic, which shuttered businesses and has millions staying home, has resulted in more than 38 million Americans filing new unemployment claims over the past nine weeks, more than 2.4 million last week alone.