Jobless Claims Fell to a New Pandemic Low Last Week -- Update
By Sarah Chaney Cambon
Unemployment claims declined to the lowest level since the
pandemic struck last spring, adding to signs the U.S. economic
revival is picking up speed.
Jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 576,000 last week
from 769,000 a week earlier.
That is the lowest weekly figure since March 2020, but still way
above the levels of around 220,000 that prevailed early last year,
before the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. economy.
"The labor market is on a recovery path," said AnnElizabeth
Konkel, economist at the job site Indeed. "The recovery is 100%
tied to the public health situation," she added.
The economy is showing signs of improvement as vaccination rates
power consumer spending, governments relax restrictions on
businesses, and households and federal-stimulus funds flow through
U.S. employers added 916,000 jobs in March, and the jobless rate
edged down to 6%, from 6.2% in February. Consumers are spending
more on gyms, restaurants, hotels and other services that they had
shunned over the past year. The Commerce Department is due to
release March retail-sales data on Thursday.
Jobless claims have been especially choppy during the pandemic.
States have struggled to process historically high numbers of
claims, creating backlogs. Many have also struggled with
unemployment-insurance fraud, which can distort weekly claims
"Jobless claims may bounce around week to week as the recovery
takes hold, but we expect they will start to decline more
consistently as the economy gains momentum," wrote Nancy Vanden
Houten, lead economist at Oxford Economics, in a note to
The number of people receiving unemployment assistance is slowly
declining as the labor market heals.
The labor market still has a long way to go before achieving a
full recovery. As of March, U.S. payrolls remained 8.4 million
below their level in February 2020.
Many workers are also facing long spells of joblessness. About
5.6 million Americans who exhausted their regular state benefits
were drawing on extended benefits through a federal program in
President Biden recently signed a $1.9 trillion relief package
into law that provides stimulus checks to many households and
extends supplemental jobless benefits originally set to expire
March 14. Workers claiming unemployment benefits can now receive an
additional $300 a week through early September.
Write to Sarah Chaney Cambon at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 15, 2021 08:55 ET (12:55 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.