Initial unemployment claims in the US dropped for a fourth straight week to 406,000, a new low since the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the labour market early last year, the Labour Department reported.
In the week ending May 22, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits decreased by 38,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 444,000, according to a report released on Thursday by the Department’s Bureau of Labour Statistics.
This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020, when it was 256,000, Xinhua news agency reported citing the report as saying.
The four-week moving average, a method to iron out data volatility, decreased by 46,000 to 458,750.
The latest report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits in the week ending May 15 decreased by 96,000 to reach 3.64 million, after increasing by 98,000 in the previous week.
Meanwhile, the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs, state and federal combined, for the week ending May 8 decreased by 175,255 to reach 15.8 million, as the country continues to grapple with the fallout of the pandemic.
More than 20 states have announced they will exit the federal unemployment programs as early as June, a few months before the expiration in September.
The federal aid includes an extra $300 weekly unemployment benefits on top of state benefits.
Governors in these states, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, have argued that such supplemental benefits from the federal government keep people from returning to work, leading to worker shortages.