Another Pandemic-Era Low for Unemployment Claims

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The number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims hit a new pandemic-era low last week. Seasonally adjusted initial claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 340,000 in the week-ending August 28, according to the most recent data release from the U.S. Department of Labor. That was a decline of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 354,000. In addition, the latest figure was the nation’s lowest volume of weekly unemployment claims since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Weekly applications for initial unemployment benefits have been generally trending downward since the start of 2021, after peaking at 904,000 claims in January. That high point, however, was well below the peak from 2020, when weekly unemployment claims reached more than 6.1 million in early April. Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. was consistently logging weekly claims below 220,000. Since the onset of the pandemic, nearly 87.9 million Americans have filed initial unemployment insurance claims.