U.S. Jobless Claims Rise, But Remain at Pandemic-Era Lows

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Even though the U.S. job market has been rebounding from 2020’s pandemic-induced recession, the number of Americans applying for unemployment insurance benefits rose last week, rising just a shade above the previous week’s 52-year low. Initial claims, a proxy for layoffs, have been gradually trending down since the start of 2020 and totaled a seasonally adjusted 222,000 in the week-ending November 27, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor. That was an increase of 28,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 194,000 and the second-lowest level for initial claims since the start of the pandemic in early 2020. The recent figure was lower than the 240,000 initial claims economists were projecting but was slightly above 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 12,000 last week to just below 239,000, a pandemic-era low. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 91.7 million initial unemployment insurance claims have been filed in the U.S.