Economy

US jobless claims drop 52-year low amid seasonal volatility

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in 52 years, more evidence that the U.S. job market is recovering from last year’s coronavirus recession.

Unemployment claims dropped by 43,000 to 184,000 last week, the lowest since September 1969, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week ups and downs, fell below 219,000, lowest since the pandemic hit the United States hard in March 2020.

Seasonal volatility likely contributed to last week’s drop as the Labor Department adjusted the numbers to reflect job market fluctuations around the holidays, said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. Before seasonal adjustments, claims actually rose by nearly 64,000 to almost 281,000.

Still, Stanley said in a research note that “the underlying trend remains downward and should be lower than it was prior to the pandemic … The unfilled demand for workers is much larger than it was then and layoffs appear to be noticeably lower.’’

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