Initial jobless claims fell for the third straight week as the US labor market continued to recover from last year’s recession.
New jobless claims totaled 375,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, in line with estimates by economists polled by the Dow Jones. The value for the previous week was revised upwards by 2,000 to 387,000 applications.
The number of jobless claims has fallen sharply since the spring in the wake of the economic recovery and has leveled off near the 400,000 mark in recent weeks. The four-week average is now 396,250 initial applications.
The most recent jobless claims report, reflecting the first week of August, came a week after the July jobs report, which showed above-expected employment growth. There were also a record number of vacancies at the end of July.
Unemployment benefit entitlement and payouts expanded during the pandemic as businesses closed due to public health restrictions. Some states have already ended the expanded programs while the national program expires next month.
The number of insured unemployment claims, a measure of persistent unemployment claims, fell to 2.866 million in the last week of July, according to Thursday’s report. That is the lowest level since mid-March 2020. A broader measure of persistent unemployment, which includes pandemic-specific benefits and other programs, also fell from week to week.
The state of the labor market recovery was an important metric for investors as Federal Reserve officials decided to run inflation hotter than normal in an attempt to reclaim jobs lost during last year’s closings. Fed Governor Christopher Waller told CNBC earlier this month that strong employment reports in August and September could cause the central bank to slow its bond purchases in the fall.
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