U.S. Jobless Claims Drop to Lowest Level Since 1969

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In further evidence that the U.S. job market is recovering from the COVID-19 induced recession, the number of Americans applying for unemployment insurance benefits plunged to a 52-year low last week. Initial claims, a proxy for layoffs, have been gradually trending down since the start of 2020 when claims topped 900,000. In the week-ending December 4, unemployment claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 184,000, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor. That was a decrease of 43,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 227,000 and the lowest level for initial claims since the week-ending September 6, 1969. The recent figure was lower than the 211,000 initial claims economists were projecting and was well below the average of roughly 218,000 claims filed per week in 2019, prior to the pandemic. The four-week average, which smooths out changes from week to week, dropped by roughly 21,000 last week to just below 219,000, a pandemic-era low. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 91.9 million initial unemployment insurance claims have been filed in the U.S.