Unemployment Claims Hit New Pandemic-Era Low

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Despite the latest surge in coronavirus cases, the number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims hit a new pandemic-era low last week, a sign that the job market is improving. Seasonally adjusted initial claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 348,000 in the week-ending August 14, according to the most recent data release from the U.S. Department of Labor. That was a decline of 29,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 377,000 and came in below economists’ projections of around 365,000 filings. In addition, the latest figure marked the fourth straight week of declines and was the nation’s lowest volume of weekly unemployment claims since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Weekly applications for initial unemployment benefits have been generally trending downward since the start of 2021, after peaking at 904,000 claims in January. That high point, however, was well below the peak from 2020, when weekly unemployment claims reached more than 6.1 million in early April. Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. was consistently logging weekly claims below 220,000. Since the onset of the pandemic, nearly 87.3 million Americans have filed initial unemployment insurance claims.