Progress in Weekly Unemployment Claims Levels Off

Manager and worker reviewing paperwork in factory
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The number of people initiating claims for unemployment insurance benefits dropped only slightly last week as progress in the job market leveled off after months of sharp improvement.

In the week that ended June 19, there were 411,000 initial claims, 7,000 fewer than the previous week and 37,000 more than the pandemic-era low of 374,000 from two weeks earlier, according to seasonally adjusted data released Thursday by the Department of Labor.

After a steady march downward earlier this spring halved the weekly volume of claims, it hasn’t moved much in recent weeks, at one point even rising a bit. And claims are still nearly twice as high as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, sending shockwaves through the economy.

Shrinking unemployment claims has been a bright spot for the labor market this year, a signal that a record number of job openings, not more layoffs, are the growing concern. Still, job growth hasn’t boomed as expected, though some economists believe a hiring spree is right around the corner.

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