That’s how much a weekly measure of people initiating unemployment claims has dropped in the last seven weeks after being stuck at three-to-four times pre-pandemic levels since last August.
There were 406,000 people who started the process to collect unemployment insurance in the week through May 22, according to the Department of Labor’s latest numbers, down from 742,000 at the start of April. The weekly figures have steadily declined in all but one week since then, repeatedly setting new lows for the pandemic era.
Until April, claims had been bouncing between 700,000 and 900,000 for most of the previous eight months, remaining stubborn even as other economic indicators gave hints that a recovery from the crush caused by the pandemic last spring had begun. Chipping away at that number suggests that fewer people are being laid off, good news for the labor market, especially amid talk that some businesses can’t find workers.