Initial Unemployment Claims Hit a New Pandemic Low

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After leveling off during much of June, the number of people initiating claims for unemployment insurance resumed a downward march last week, setting a new pandemic-era low in the process.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to 364,000 in the week ending June 26, the lowest level since March 14, 2020 and a decline of 51,000 from the previous week, according to seasonally adjusted data released Thursday by the Labor Department. The drop was larger than economists expected, and brings unemployment claims nearer to their pre-pandemic level of around 210,000 per week.

“There's been some bumpiness in recent weeks, but the overall downward trend is clear, which is what we want,” wrote AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at job search website Indeed, on Twitter.

The downward trend began in early March, with the volume of weekly claims plummeting from 765,000 to 444,000 in a matter of weeks. The decline in new claims means businesses are hanging on to the workers they have and fewer people are being laid off—a bright spot for a labor market in need of one.

Job growth hasn’t boomed as expected this year despite a record number of openings. Some economists believe a hiring spree is right around the corner. We’ll find out if the boom arrived in June on Friday, when the government releases its monthly jobs report.

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