Weekly unemployment claims drop sharply to 310,000, new pandemic low

First-time unemployment claims filings in the US fell to 310,000 last week, slightly the lowest in the Covid era and a significant step toward normalcy before the pandemic, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

According to economists polled by Dow Jones, a total of 335,000 claims were expected in the week ended September 4th.

The grand total for the week ended September 4 was a significant decrease from 345,000 the previous week and is the lowest since March 14, 2020. Claims incidents may have been even lower, with the exception of a significant bump in Louisiana that was caused by Hurricane Ida has been hammered and still has nearly 250,000 homes and businesses without electricity.

Before the announcement of the pandemic in March 2020, the trend for first-time registrations was around 215,000. At its peak, initial filings hit 6.1 million and stayed above 1 million a week through early August 2020. A year ago at this point, weekly requests averaged 881,000.

Employment concerns have escalated in recent weeks, particularly after the Labor Department reported last week that the number of non-farm workers rose by just 235,000 in August, about a third of what Wall Street expected. Growth in some areas appears to have slowed amid mounting fears about the Covid Delta variant.

However, the claims figures averaged 339,500 in the last four weeks and are supporting a recovery in the labor market.

President Joe Biden said in a statement the claims report was “further evidence of lasting economic recovery.”

Current claims, which were a week behind the headline, also fell to 2.78 million, a decrease of 22,000 from the previous week but higher than the FactSet estimate of 2.73 million. This is also the lowest level since March 14, 2020. The moving four-week average of permanent claims fell to 2.84 million.

The total number of recipients of all unemployment programs declined to 11.93 million, down by 255,757 as federal extended benefits expired on Monday. A year ago it was 30.4 million.

According to unadjusted data, initial claims in Missouri (-7,676), Florida (-3,886) and New Yok (-3,561) fell the most. These declines were offset by gains in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana (7,259), California (5,604) and Michigan (4,823).

The claims numbers come amid a job vacancy outbreak as employers struggle to fill vacancies.

The available jobs stood at 10.9 million at the end of July, according to figures released by the Ministry of Labor on Wednesday. That was an easy record high, up 749,000, or 7.4%, from June.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that job creation across the country ranged “from low to high” from July to August.

In its periodic Beige Book report on the regional economy, the central bank also noted an “extensive” shortage of available labor and said companies would raise wages to try to fill jobs. The Fed said overall growth “shifted slightly to a moderate pace” over the period.

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