US unemployment claims plunge to lowest level since 1969

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Applications for state unemployment benefits fell to levels not seen since 1969, according to the latest data from the US Department of Labor.

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In the week ending November 20, the forward figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims stood at 199,000, a decrease of 71,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Not only does this mark a return to pre-Covid-19 pandemic claims levels, but it is also the lowest level of initial claims since 15 November 1969 when it stood at 197,000.


a bloomberg The survey of economists estimated an average of 260,000 applications.

However, seasonal adjustments around the Thanksgiving holiday contributed significantly to the decline more than expected. Unadjusted figures show claims have actually risen by more than 18,000 to nearly 259,000.

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The four-week average of claims, which smoothes out weekly volatility, also fell – from 21,000 to just over 252,000, the lowest since mid-March 2020 when the pandemic slammed the economy.

Since topping 900,000 in early January, the number of applications has been on a steady decline and has now fallen below its pre-pandemic level of about 220,000 in a week. Jobless aid claims are a proxy for layoffs.

In all, 2 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment checks, a little less than the week ending November 13.

If claims are sustained at pre-pandemic levels, it will increase the likelihood that Federal Reserve officials will accelerate their tapering of bond purchases and consider raising interest rates soon after buying ends in 2022.

The data follows reports showing the fastest inflation in three decades and an increase in job gains in October, which has added to calls for speeding up the process.

While payrolls rose by 531,000 in October’s jobs report, and economists forecast another 500,000 to be added in November, millions of Americans are still choosing not to return to work.

Frustrated employers are desperate to fill positions and continue to offer incentives and more flexible work arrangements to try and entice people back to work.

The November figures are expected on December 3 and will reveal whether their strategy is working, or whether the increase in Covid cases in recent weeks is keeping people at home once again.

With reporting from The Associated Press

Credit: / jobs

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