Unemployment benefit claims in the United States fell for the fifth week in a row to their lowest level since pandemic, a sign that the labor market is recovering health as the economy reopens.
The Labor Department said Thursday that requests fell by 20,000 from last week to 385,000. The number of weekly losses, which generally reflects the rate of layoffs, has declined steadily throughout the year, although it remains at historically high levels.
The figures reflect a rebound in economic growth and the sustained recovery of the labor market after the recession caused by COVID-19. More people go shopping, traveling, eating and meeting in fun places. The increase in consumer spending leads companies to take on new employees.
Employers have added 1.8 million jobs this year – an average of more than 450,000 per month – and the May labor report is expected to reveal that they created 656,000 jobs last month, according to a survey of the firm’s economists. FactSet. The economy has 8.2 million fewer jobs than in February 2020, shortly before the virus.
But employers post a record number of available jobs. And many complain that they do not have enough workers to meet the demand.
Job growth slowed sharply in April compared to March, a setback widely attributed to labor shortages in some industries, especially in restaurants and other lodging sector employers.
At least 25 states have announced that cut some federal emergency aid to the unemployed – including a federal benefit of $ 300 a week – starting next week.
Critics argue that additional federal unemployment assistance, in addition to ordinary state benefits, deters some of the unemployed from looking for work.
Weekly claims for unemployment assistance, which topped 900,000 in early January, have declined steadily throughout the year, yet remain high compared to historical levels: Before COVID-19 virtually paralyzed the economy in March 2020, applications are were regularly below 230,000 weekly.
In the week ending May 15, a total of 15.4 million people received some form of unemployment assistance, including special federal programs to help the unemployed during the pandemic.
This figure is lower than the 15.8 million of the previous week. This figure has fallen steadily since the about 20 million December.