Number Of Americans On State Unemployment Benefits Falls Below 2 Million For First Time Since Pandemic Lockdowns

Topline

Though new jobless claims ticked up from a 52-week low last week, the number of Americans receiving state-level jobless benefits, or insured unemployment, fell to its lowest level since March 2020, the Labor Department said Thursday, adding to a slew of recently promising developments for the long-struggling labor market ahead of a key report on Friday.

Economists were expecting about 260,000 new jobless claims last week.


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Key Facts

About 222,000 people filed initial jobless claims in the week ending November 27, according to the weekly data released Thursday, climbing 28,000 from the previous week, which marked the lowest level of new claims since November 1969.

Despite the uptick, the week’s figures came in much better than average economist expectations calling for about 240,000 new claims last week, according to Bloomberg data.

Continuing claims also fell to a new pandemic-era low below 2 million, a sharp decrease of 107,000 from the previous week and edging closer to pre-Covid levels below 1.8 million.

Key Background

The labor market has minted a stunning turnaround after the delta variant-spurred wave of Covid-19 infections dealt a blow to its recovery this summer. Though the job market posted its worst month of the year in September, a decline in Covid-19 cases helped usher in a streak of weekly improvements for new jobless claims, and the U.S. added back a better-than-expected 531,000 jobs in October—marking the best monthly showing since July. “Unemployment has fallen so far this year at the fastest rate since the 1950s,” President Joe Biden said in a statement late last month. “It’s a jobs recovery that has happened years faster than after the Great Recession of 2008. America is getting back to work.”

What To Watch For

The Labor Department will release its employment report for November on Friday. Economists expect the economy added back about 573,000 jobs last month, which would again mark the best performance since July.

Further Reading

U.S. Posts Near-Record 10.4 Million Job Openings—But Here’s Why More Americans Aren’t Looking For Work (Forbes)

U.S. Economy Added 531,000 Jobs Last Month—But 7.4 Million Americans Are Still Unemployed (Forbes)