Jobless Claims Fall to 385,000 — New Pandemic Low

Kimberly Redmond  |

Image source: US Department of Labor, June 3, 2021

The number of Americans filing for initial job loss claims fell below 400,000 for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. 

On Thursday, the US Labor Department reported that the number of first-time claims dropped to 385,000 for the week ending May 29, down 20,000 from the prior week.

Last week’s decline marked the fifth straight week that new filings fell, a trend that suggests the nation’s job market is healing as the economy ramps back up, particularly in hard-hit industries like hospitality and leisure.  

According to The Associated Press, employers have added 1.8 million jobs this year — an average of 450,000 per month — and the federal government’s May jobs report is expected to show an additional 650,000 last month. 

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The country is still down 8.2 million jobs from February 2020, just before the public health crisis began.

More than 15.4 million Americans are still receiving benefits under various pandemic-related assistance programs, down from 15.8 million the previous week.

That figure has steadily declined from 20 million in December 2020 and is about half of what it was a year ago, CNBC noted.

The number of overall claims is expected to decrease as more Americans return to work and as states curtail enhanced benefits programs.

At least two dozen states plan to terminate federal pandemic unemployment aid — including a $300-per-week benefit — as early as next week.  

Officials in those states believe the enhanced benefits, which have been in place since March 2020, are keeping people from returning to the workforce and making it difficult for employers to hire for open jobs.

Supporters of the programs have said there is no link between labor shortages and the enhanced benefits. Rather, they believe school closures, childcare duties and the lingering threat of the virus have kept Americans from seeking employment. 

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Source: Equities News

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