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Jobless Claims Hit New Post-Pandemic Low

New jobless claims in the week ending July 10 dropped to 360,000, down 26,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the July 15 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020, when it was 256,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 13,000 from 373,000 to 386,000, according to the report. 

The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending June 26 was approximately 13.9 million, a decline of 372,279 from the previous week. By contrast, there were close to 30.6 million weekly claims in all programs in the comparable week in 2020.

Extended pandemic benefits in the week ending June 26 were available in Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Texas.

Although claims are dropping as the economy reopens post-pandemic, the numbers are still higher than 2019’s average of 218,000, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The economy is expanding rapidly now, as Covid infections go down and firms are given the OK to expand in-person activity,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co, per the WSJ report. “To meet that demand, firms need to hire workers.”

Yahoo Finance reported that economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected new claims to drop to 350,000. During the same time period last year, new claims were 1.5 million.

The worker shortage continues, with 46 percent of small business owners reporting that they had job openings in June that remained unfilled. Some 39 percent of small businesses indicated that they upped pay to attract employees, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, per Yahoo Finance.

“It bears a reminder that the U.S. economy is booming with growth, or GDP, soaring. While welcome, this is not without a downside. The reopening of the economy has created unprecedented strains, including strong demand for workers,” Mark Hamrick, senior economist and analyst at Bankrate, told Yahoo Finance.

“One doesn’t have to travel very far to find businesses visibly understaffed, some of which are opting to reduce operating hours or output as a less optimal way of adjusting to the worker shortage,” Hamrick added.

In the week ending July 8, new jobless claims unexpectedly edged up slightly from the previous week.

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