As evidence of a healing economy, initial unemployment claims have dropped to the lowest point since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the week-ending March 20 (the most recent reporting period), a total of 684,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This was the first time filings dropped below the 700,000-mark since mid-March 2020. That trend could continue as more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine and coronavirus cases decline. Economists had expected initial jobless filings of 730,000 last week, so the recent numbers were 46,000 claims lower than projected and were down by 97,000 filings from the previous week, which was revised up by 11,000, from 770,000 to 781,000 claims. Even with the recent decline, claims are still way above pre-pandemic levels, which averaged just over 200,000 each week in the early months of 2020. Prior to the pandemic, the record high for weekly claims was recorded in early October 1982, when 695,000 Americans filed for assistance. The weekly high during the pandemic was recorded in late March 2020, when nearly 6.9 million initial claims were filed. Total unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic have now reached nearly 82.6 million.