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Unemployment Claims in U.S. Drop to Lowest Levels Since 1970

Unemployment Claims in U.S. Drop to Lowest Levels Since 1970

It’s a great time for workers. The U.S. has record job openings but not enough people to fill them. Many are leaving one job for another, often getting higher pay and better working conditions in the process.

The U.S. job market and the overall economy have shown remarkable resiliency despite ongoing supply chain breakdowns, the economic consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine, and the highest consumer inflation in 40 years. The total number of Americans collecting unemployment assistance has fallen to its lowest level in nearly five decades, just two years after the coronavirus pandemic plunged the economy into a brief but devastating recession. Jobless claims in the United States fell by 2,000 to 184,000 last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which levels out week-to-week volatility, rose by 4,500 to 177,250.

Unemployment claims have been dropping steadily since President Biden took office. About 1.42 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits in the week of April 9th, the fewest since February 21, 1970. And there is a record proportion of 1.7 job openings for every unemployed American.

Last year, employers added a record 6.7 million jobs, and they’ve added an average of 560,000 more each month so far in 2022. The unemployment rate, which soared to 14.7% in April 2020 in the depths of the COVID-19 recession, is now just 3.6%, barely above the lowest point in 50 years. The strong U.S. labor market is the economy’s biggest buffer against recession, especially with the Federal Reserve moving to raise interest rates to try to tame inflation.

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Raw, or unadjusted, jobless claims fell in 38 states, most notably Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, New York, and Texas. The only state to post a sizable increase was Connecticut. And looking ahead, the demand for labor will continue, and there are no reasons to believe that this will change any time soon.

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