US initial jobless claims continue to fall

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 13,000 last week to 553,000, the lowest level since the pandemic hit last March and another sign the economy is recovering from the coronavirus recession.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims were down from 566,000 a week earlier. They have fallen sharply over the past year but remain well above the 230,000 weekly figure typical before the pandemic struck the economy in March 2020.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out weekly gyrations, fell 44,000 to 611,750.

Nearly 3.7 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits the week of April 17. Including federal programs designed to ease economic pain from the health crisis, 16.6 million were receiving some type of jobless aid the week of April 10.

“Layoffs are elevated but are gradually easing, consistent with an economy that is reopening,” says Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “We expect further declines in filings as businesses move closer toward normal capacity which will boost job growth over coming months.” Read the full story.