Weekly unemployment claims fell for the third time in the last four weeks, evidence that fewer employers are cutting jobs. That trend could continue as more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine and coronavirus cases ease, allowing businesses to loosen restrictions. During the week-ending March 6 (the most recent reporting period), a total of 712,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Economists had expected initial jobless filings of 725,000 last week, so the recent numbers were 13,000 claims lower than projected. Last week’s claims were the lowest level seen since the beginning of November 2020 and a decrease of 42,000 filings from the previous week, which was revised up by 9,000, from 745,000 to 754,000 claims. Even with the deeper than expected decline, claims are still way above pre-pandemic levels, which averaged just over 200,000 each week in the early months of 2020. Total unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic now exceed 81 million.