Jobless Claims Hit Milestone on the Road Back to Normal

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82

The Balance

That's how many weeks it's taken for the volume of U.S. unemployment claims to fall below 300,000 again.

People around the country filed 293,000 new unemployment claims last week—36,000 fewer than the previous week and a new low since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Department of Labor said Thursday.

For perspective, weekly claims that had averaged just above 200,000 prior to the pandemic shot up to over 6 million when shutdowns crushed the economy, making last week’s return to the 200,000 range a milestone. The second straight week of declines is particularly notable because claims had been going in the wrong direction for much of September after a surge in the number of U.S. daily COVID-19 cases in July and August. Economists attributed the improvement to case counts falling again. 

“It appears we are on the other side of the pandemic,” Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, wrote in a commentary.

The unemployment data adds to recent evidence that workers, not employers, have the upper hand as businesses struggle to fill open positions.

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