WASHINGTON. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell for the seventh straight week to a pandemic low of 268,000.
The Labor Department said Thursday that US jobless claims fell 1,000 last week from a week earlier.
Jobless claims are an indicator of layoffs, and their steady decline this year – after surpassing 900,000 in a week in early January – reflects a robust recovery in the labor market after a brief but intense coronavirus-related recession last year. The four-week average order number, which smoothes out weekly volatility, also fell to a pandemic low of just below 273,000.
The number of applications for unemployment benefits is declining and is approaching the pre-pandemic level of about 220,000 per week.
Overall, 2.1 million Americans received traditional unemployment checks in the week ended November 6, down 129,000 from the week before.
Until September 6, the federal government supplemented state unemployment insurance programs with an additional $ 300 per week and expanded benefits for giants and those who have been unemployed for six months or more. Including federal programs, the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits in one form or another in June last year totaled more than 33 million.
The coronavirus hit the U.S. economy early last year, forcing many businesses to close or shorten opening hours and forcing many Americans to stay home as a health precaution. In March and April 2020, employers cut more than 22 million jobs.
But last summer, the economy began to recover. Consumers who received government aid checks and gained credibility with the reduction in COVID-19 cases have resumed spending. With the introduction of vaccines this year, they have begun to return to shops, restaurants and bars.
Suddenly, many employers were struggling to keep up with the unexpected surge in demand. They are struggling to fill vacancies – nearly a record 10.4 million in September. Workers who are in a bargaining zone for the first time in decades are becoming choosy about their job choices; a record 4.4 million quit smoking in September, a sign that they are confident in their ability to find something better.
Jobless claims are “steadily declining and approaching pre-pandemic levels,” said Rubila Farouki, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics. Layoffs are on the decline, indicating that companies are holding on to workers in the face of a labor shortage.
Since April 2020, employers have hired more than 18 million people, including 531 thousand in October. But the US economy still lacks more than 4 million jobs compared to February last year.