US jobless claims drop despite surge in COVID cases 

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 310,000, a pandemic low and a sign that the surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant has yet to lead to widespread layoffs.

This morning’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims dropped from a revised total of 345,000 the week before. The number of applications has fallen steadily since topping 900,000 in early January, reflecting the steady reopening of the economy after the pandemic recession.

But the spread of the delta variant this summer has put renewed pressure on the economy and the job market. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve reported that U.S. economic activity “downshifted” in July and August, in part because of a pullback in dining out, travel and tourism related to concerns about the delta variant.

Still, the ongoing drop in applications for unemployment aid—six declines in the past seven weeks—makes clear that most companies are holding onto their workers despite the slowdown. That trend should help sustain the economic rebound through the current wave of infections. See the report.