The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment insurance fell last week to the lowest level since the pandemic began, suggesting layof
The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment insurance fell last week to the lowest level since the pandemic began, suggesting layoffs are easing despite a rise in coronavirus infections.
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell by 40,000 to 751,000 in the week through Oct. 24, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was the lowest level of claims since mid-March, just before the pandemic shut down much business activity throughout the U.S.
Daily virus infections reached new highs over the past week, and it is too early to tell how employers and consumers will respond.
Claims remain exceptionally high by historical standards. Last week’s new claims were more than three times the weekly average early this year, before the pandemic. Initial claims, which reflect the number of people laid off only recently and not those receiving assistance for more than a week, are just one measure of unemployment assistance. In total, more than 20 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits through regular state and emergency programs.
Anecdotal evidence—companies big and small announcing plans to lay off more workers as the pandemic persists—suggests the labor market recovery will be protracted.