1.5 million Americans file initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, another weekly drop in claims filed.

Another sign that things may be getting less bad. The U.S. Department of Labor reports,

In the week ending June 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 1,542,000, a decrease of 355,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 20,000 from 1,877,000 to 1,897,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,002,000, a decrease of 286,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 4,250 from 2,284,000 to 2,288,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 14.4 percent for the week ending May 30, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the previous week’s revised rate. The previous week’s rate was revised down by 0.2 from 14.8 to 14.6 percent. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 30 was 20,929,000, a decrease of 339,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 219,000 from 21,487,000 to 21,268,000. The 4-week moving average was 21,987,500, a decrease of 404,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 54,000 from 22,446,250 to 22,392,250.

The Wall Street Journal reports the decrease suggests a recovery may be beginning, though there are plenty of concerns about its sustainability.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits continued to fall while those receiving benefits appeared to plateau, signs the labor market continues to slowly mend from the coronavirus employment shock.

The ranks of Americans drawing on unemployment benefits declined slightly in the week ended May 30 to 20.9 million, the Labor Department said Thursday. So-called continuing claims remain historically high—the prepandemic record was 6.6 million in 2009—and appear to have stabilized in recent weeks after peaking in early May…

It’s fair to say that the recovery has started, but that’s not a guarantee that the recovery will continue uninterrupted,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at job site Glassdoor.

He pointed to the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus infections and a pullback in government aid as potential roadblocks to a smooth recovery.

The Fed remains cautious.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, speaking Wednesday after the agency’s policy meeting, played down recent positive news on the labor market, citing the long-term disturbances the pandemic is causing for the economy.

“I think we have to be honest, that it’s a long road,” he said, noting the virus’s impact on jobs in industries most affected by the virus. “It could be some years before we get back to those people finding jobs,” he said.

And Calculated Risk reminds us reported number “does not include the 623,073 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)” program adopted by Congress outside the regular UI system.