As the country continues to heal, U.S. unemployment claims continue to drop and are now are at their lowest level since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In the week-ending April 24 (the most recent reporting period), roughly 553,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Jobless claims have been falling steadily in the last month, decreasing every week. However, this week’s reading hit a bit higher than economists’ expectations of 540,000 filings. Shrinking unemployment claims are likely to continue as many employers begin hiring again, vaccines become more readily available and states reopen economies. The four-week average for jobless claims nearly reaches 612,000. Though these recent rates are the lowest seen in the pandemic, they’re still more than double the roughly 200,000 weekly claims submitted in the months before the COVID-19 fallout in March and April 2020. According to revised data, roughly 80.7 million people have filed initial unemployment insurance claims since the onset of the pandemic.