By Sarah Chaney Cambon

Jobless claims fell slightly and notched a new pandemic low last week, a sign layoffs remain low as companies struggle to hire workers.

Worker filings for initial unemployment benefits decreased to 290,000 last week from a revised 296,000 a week earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Last week's decline brings claims to the lowest level since the pandemic struck in March 2020. Claims, a proxy for layoffs, are holding well below a recent peak of 424,000 in mid-July but remain above 2019's weekly average of 218,000.

Claims could return to their pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union. "Employers are clinging to employees given it's so hard to hire, it's so hard to retain," Mr. Frick said.

Write to Sarah Chaney Cambon at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 21, 2021 08:53 ET (12:53 GMT)

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