The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits fell last week to its lowest level in more than half a century, another sign that the US labor market is quickly recovering from last year’s recession caused by the coronavirus.
Requests for assistance fell from 71,000 to 199,000, the lowest level since mid-November 1969, but seasonal adjustments related to the Thanksgiving holiday contributed significantly to a larger-than-expected decline.
Without an adjustment, orders actually increased by more than 18,000 to nearly 259,000.
The four-week average number of requests for assistance, a number that softens the weekly ups and downs, also fell from 21,000 to just over 252,000, the lowest number since mid-March 2020, when the pandemic hit the economy.
With orders above 900,000 in early January, they have fallen steadily and are now below the pre-pandemic level of about 220,000 per week.
Applications for unemployment assistance are a measure of layoffs.
About two million Americans were cashing traditional unemployment checks in the week ending November 13, just under the previous week.
“Overall, fluctuations in the headline numbers are expected to continue, but the trend continues to decline very slowly,” according to Contingent Macro Advisors in a research note.
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