As Louisiana begins moving into Phase 2 of reopening from the COVID-19 shutdown, there are faint glimmers of good economic news on the horizon.

The number of initial unemployment claims for the last week of May were under 20,000 for the first time since March 21. This marks the sixth consecutive week of declines in those filing unemployment claims.

Additionally, there were 26,000 less Louisianans receiving unemployment benefits on May 23 than in the week prior. This takes the total number of those receiving unemployment to just a bit over 300,000.

Still, even with these small signs of hope, the overall economic picture remains troubling. The number of initial claims is still approximately 10 times the rate during normal economic times. The slowdown in claims could also simply be explained by the fact that most people have already lost their jobs in previous weeks, rather than a sign of a Louisianans going back to work. Additionally, the number of people on unemployment insurance remains 25 times higher than it was at the beginning of March.

But, as the workers of Louisiana are able to begin safely returning to their normal lives, this data offers a sign of what we all hope is soon to come – a Louisiana where jobs and opportunity are thriving rather than the current stagnation and decline we’re experiencing.