The employment situation in the United States improved markedly last week, with initial unemployment insurance claims reaching a new pandemic-era low.
Initial claims totaled 498,000 for the week ended March 1, against the Dow Jones estimate of 527,000. This was down from the previous week’s total of 590,000, which saw a downward revision. substantial increase from the 553,000 initially reported.
While the job market still has a long way to go before fully recovering from the damage of the pandemic, improvement has accelerated in recent weeks as restrictions on activity continue to be lifted.
Although the pace has slowed down lately, the United States still vaccinates more than 2 million people a day and will soon have half the population with at least one vaccine.
The drop in claims comes a day before the Labor Department publishes its non-farm tally for April. Economists expect the economy to add 1 million more jobs during the month, with hiring likely the fastest in the hospitality sector, which has suffered the worst of the damage from the economy. pandemic.
However, continuing claims actually increased last week, from 37,000 to just under 3.7 million. The four-week moving average of claims edged down to 3.68 million, the lowest since March 28, 2020, as massive layoffs began to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.
While last week’s numbers indicate greater growth in the labor market, they will not appear in the non-farm payroll count because they are outside the survey week that the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to compile his estimate.
State-level only Kentucky reported a noticeable increase, with its claims increasing by 4,657, according to unadjusted figures. Virginia (-23,909), Florida (-9,662) and California (-7,402) were among the states with significant declines.
Total benefit recipients fell from 404,509 to 16.16 million due to a sharp decline in pandemic-related programs.
A separate economic report showed that labor productivity of non-farm businesses accelerated 5.4% in the first quarter, well above the Dow Jones estimate of 4.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unit labor costs fell 0.3%, which was not as much as the forecast of 1%.
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