US initial jobless claims drop to new pandemic low amid labor shortage

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Initial jobless claims in the United States last week fell to 2,69,000 amid continued labor shortage, hitting a fresh low in the pandemic era, the US Labor Department has reported.

In the week ending October 30, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped by 14,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised level of 2,83,000, according to a report released by the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The latest figure was the lowest since March 14, 2020, when it was 256,000, the report said on Thursday.

The four-week moving average, a method to iron out data volatility, decreased by 15,000 to 2,84,750, according to the report.

In recent months, initial jobless claims hit fresh lows in the pandemic era on multiple occasions, but the declining trend was repeatedly reversed, indicating a bumpy economic recovery. The figure rose for three weeks in a row in September amid surging Delta variant cases, Xinhua news agency reported.

The latest jobless claims report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits in the week ending October 23 decreased by 134,000 to 2.1 million. That number peaked in April and May 2020, when it was over 20 million.

The continued decline in initial jobless filings came as companies were struggling to hire more workers and avoid layoffs amid continued labor shortage, and federal unemployment benefits for over 10 million people expired in early September.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs — state and federal combined — for the week ending October 16 fell by 157,731 to 2.67 million.

–IANS

int/khz/