US jobless claims fall to 326,000, first drop in four weeks

Washington (AFP) – The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, another sign that the US labor market and economy are continuing a steady recovery from last year’s coronavirus recession.

The Labor Department said Thursday that unemployment claims fell by 38,000 to 326,000, the first decline in four weeks. Since exceeding 900,000 in early January, weekly orders, a proxy for layoffs, have fallen steadily somewhat throughout the year. However, they are still high from pre-pandemic levels: Before the COVID-19 coronavirus hit the US economy in March 2020, weekly claims were consistently coming in at around 220,000.

The labor market has rebounded with surprising strength since the spring of 2020. Employers were forced to close or limit working hours as a health precaution, and they cut more than 22 million jobs in March and April of last year. But massive help from the federal government and the release of vaccines have supported the economic recovery, providing consumers with the money to spend and the confidence to return to restaurants, bars and stores.

So far this year, employers have added 586,000 jobs per month, and this month’s employment report, due on Friday, is expected to show they topped another 488,000 jobs in September, according to a survey of economists by data firm FactSet.

Companies are now complaining they can’t find workers fast enough to fill an increase in jobs, a record 10.9 million in July.

In all, 2.7 million Americans were receiving some form of unemployment assistance in the week of September 25. And in early September, the federal government suspended additional aid — including $300 a week in addition to traditional government subsidies — that were intended to mitigate the economic impact of unemployment. epidemic.

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