On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell steeply last week. This shows that hiring is picking up in the nation and the U.S. economy is improving.
The week that ended on March 20, 2021 had a total of 684,000 claims. This is the first time that the number of claims has fallen below the 700,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the claims were much higher at 781,000.
This week has had the lowest claims in just over a year, since the beginning of the pandemic which was week March 14, 2020. It has also come as a pleasant surprise as economists surveyed by the Dow Jones predicted 735,00 claims.
The most recent weekly claims total has also for the first time fallen below a pre-pandemic record of 695,000 claims made in early October, 1982.
Another green shoot in the reviving economy was also seen in continuing claims. This figure also fell to 3.87 million. This was a slide of 264,000. Continuing claims run a week behind weekly claims.
There has been a rise in the total number of those who receive benefits and it rose to almost 19 million. However, this data is two weeks behind claims numbers. Therefore, as there is a continual decline in those who avail benefits under the special pandemic-era assistance programs, the total number of beneficiaries will also decline.
Lower claims have been received due to the government stimulus and the vaccine drive which is helping businesses to open slowly but surely. Many states across the nation have relaxed the strict protocols that were in place by 15 to 30 to even higher depending on the type of business and local leadership decisions.
On Thursday Federal Reserve Chairman Jeremy Powell told NPR’s Morning Edition that the administration would very gradually and with great transparency pull back the support that has been provided during emergency times.
However, Wall Street has indicated a lower open, although the job news scenario is better than expected.