The number of Americans filing for diminished to a new pandemic low last week, dropping below 300,000 for the first time since March 2020.
Figures released by the Labor Department show that applications for the week ending Oct. 9 lowered from a revised 344,750 a week earlier to 293,000. It marked the best level of jobless claims since March 14, 2020 when there were 256,000 applicants just as COVID - 19 began to shut down the nation's economy.
Continuing claims, or the number of Americans on unemployment benefits, fell to 2.59 million, a decrease in 134,000 from last week. It marked a new pandemic low. The report shows that approximately 24.9 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits for the week ending Sept. 25; by comparison, an estimated 3.6 million Americans had received benefit exactly one year ago.
Now we're talking, said Robert Frick, a major economist at Navy Federal Credit Union. A big decrease in unemployment claims for the most recent week finally broke the 300,000 barrier and is the strongest evidence yet that COVID - 19 delta wave has lost its impact on layoffs. Claims have continued declined as the economy recovers from the pandemic and Americans venture out to travel, shop and eat. Businesses have had to keep up with demand, however, and have reported difficulties in onboarding new employees. Thursday's report suggests that companies are making an effort to retain the workers they have already.
The labor department reported last week that there were 10.4 million open positions at the end of August. Though a slight decline from the end of July, it's still a staggeringly high figure; there are 2.7 million more open jobs than unemployed Americans looking for work.
The number was exacerbated by a record 4.3 million people who quit their jobs in August, representing about 2.9% of the country's workforce, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey JOLTS The report was released just days after the government’s September jobs report that revealed payroll increased by just 194,000 last month, well below the 500,000 expected by Refinitive economists.
But economists believe the latest unemployment report is a sign that the labor market is recovering from a summer that was dominated by the spread of highly contagious delta variants.
We re into the period when the government collects data for the forthcoming October Jobs Report, due in early November, said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate's senior economist analyst. There is some evidence that payrolls data will look better next time around.