US jobless claims at 52-year low amid seasonal volatility | national news

By PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in 52 years, further evidence that the US labor market is recovering from last year’s coronavirus recession.

Unemployment claims fell from 43,000 to 184,000 last week, the lowest since September 1969, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week moving average, which eases week-to-week highs and lows, fell below 219,000, the lowest since the pandemic hit the United States hard in March 2020.

Seasonal volatility likely contributed to last week’s decline as the Labor Department adjusted the numbers to reflect fluctuations in the labor market during the holidays, said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. Before seasonal adjustments, claims actually increased from almost 64,000 to almost 281,000.

Still, Stanley said in a research note that “the underlying trend remains down and is expected to be lower than it was before the pandemic … The unmet demand for workers is much larger than it is before the pandemic. ‘was at the time and the layoffs appear to be significantly lower. ‘

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Overall, just under 2 million Americans were receiving traditional unemployment benefits in the week ending November 27.

Weekly claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have fallen steadily for most of the year since they surpassed 900,000 a week in early January. They are now below the typical 220,000 per week level before the coronavirus pandemic hit the US economy in March 2020; COVID-19 has forced consumers to stay home as a health precaution and businesses to shut down or cut hours and lay off staff. In March and April of last year, employers cut 22.4 million jobs.

Massive government aid and the rollout of vaccines have helped revive the economy and the job market by giving Americans the confidence and the financial means to shop, often online, for goods such as patio furniture. and coffee makers. Since April of last year, the United States has regained nearly 18.5 million jobs. But the economy still lacks 3.9 million jobs from where it was in February 2020, and the economy’s outlook remains vulnerable to COVID variants such as the omicron.

The Labor Department reported last week that employers created a disappointing 210,000 jobs last month. But the report also showed that the unemployment rate fell to a pandemic low of 4.2% from 4.6% in October.

And the ministry reported on Wednesday that employers posted a record 11 million job postings in October. He also said 4.2 million people have quit their jobs – just after September’s record 4.4 million – a sign that they are confident enough in their prospects to seek something better.

Until September 6, the federal government had supplemented state unemployment insurance programs by making an additional payment of $ 300 per week and extending benefits to concert workers and those who were out of work for six months or more. Including federal programs, the number of Americans receiving some form of unemployment assistance peaked at more than 33 million in June 2020.

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