U.S. unemployment benefits drop 1, 000 to 268, 000

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U.S. unemployment benefits drop 1, 000 to 268, 000

The labor market recovery gains momentum, but a shortage of workers keeps hampering job gains, as Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits fell close to pre-pandemic levels last week.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000 for the week ending Nov. 13, slipping 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000. It was the lowest level since the start of the COVID 19 epidemic in the United States more than 20 months ago.

Economists polled by Reuters had predicted 260,000 applications in the last week.

The seventh week of decline in claims left them just above the 256,000 level in mid-March 2020. There is a range of claims that are associated with a healthy labor market.

They fell from a record high of 6.149 million in early April 2020.

The continued improvement is consistent with other data that suggests an acceleration in economic activity after a lull over the summer due to a wave of coronaviruses that have battered the nation. In October, retail sales were up, according to the government. Production at factories rebounded sharply last month.

The data covered the period during which the government surveyed business establishments for the nonfarm payrolls component of November's employment report.

Since mid-October, claims have decreased, which would suggest stronger employment growth. The nearly two-year long epidemic has resulted in worker shortages, leaving 10.4 million job openings at the end of September.

In October, the economy created 531,000 jobs. The labor force is down 3 million from the pre-pandemic level, and employment growth has averaged 582,000 jobs per month this year.