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U.S. Jobless Claims Drop to 52-Year Low

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop to 52-Year Low

Another sign that the U.S. job market is rapidly rebounding, the number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance benefits dropped to a 52-year low last week. Initial claims, a proxy for layoffs, have been gradually trending down since the start of 2020 and totaled a seasonally adjusted 199,000 in the week-ending November 20, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor. That was a decrease of 71,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 270,000 and the lowest level for initial claims since the week-ending November 15, 1969. The recent figure was also much lower than the 260,000 initial claims economists were projecting and fell below the average of roughly 218,000 claims filed per week in 2019, prior to the pandemic. However, seasonal adjustments at this time of year could have significantly contributed to the unexpected drop, as unadjusted weekly claims were up by more than 18,000 last week to roughly 259,000. The four-week average, which smooths out changes from week to week dropped by 21,000 to just over 252,000, a pandemic-era low. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 91.5 million initial unemployment insurance claims have been filed in the U.S.