U.S. jobless claims fall to 364,000, a new pandemic low
Image via AP.

Now Hiring sign in Miami Beach
Last week’s drop in jobless claims was steeper than economists had expected.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell again last week to the lowest level since the pandemic struck last year, further evidence that the job market and the broader economy are rebounding rapidly from the coronavirus recession.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims dropped by 51,000 to 364,000. Applications for unemployment benefits have fallen more or less steadily since the year began. The rollout of vaccines has sharply reduced new COVID-19 cases, giving consumers the confidence to shop, travel, eat out and attend public events as the economy recovers.

Last week’s drop in jobless claims was steeper than economists had expected. Applications for unemployment benefits have now fallen in 10 of the past 12 weeks.

“As life normalizes and the service sector continues to gain momentum, we expect initial jobless claims to remain in a downtrend,″ said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at the consulting firm Maria Fiorini Ramirez.

All that pent-up spending has generated such demand for workers, notably at restaurants and tourism businesses, that many employers have been struggling to fill jobs just as the number of posted openings has reached a record high. But many economists expect hiring to catch up with demand in the coming months, especially as federal unemployment aid programs end and more people pursue jobs.

On Friday, according to the data provider FactSet, the government is expected to report that employers added 675,000 jobs in June. That would be a substantial number but still not at a pace that would allow the economy to quickly regain its pre-pandemic level of employment. The job market remains nearly 7 million jobs short of that level.

Some businesses have complained that expanded federal aid to the unemployed — especially a $300-a-week supplemental benefit, intended to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic — has discouraged some people from looking for a job.

But other factors, too, are believed to have contributed to the shortage of people seeking work again: Difficulty arranging or affording child care, lingering fears of COVID-19, early retirements by older workers, a slowdown in immigration and a decision by some people to seek new careers rather than return to their old jobs.

Responding to the criticism about the duration of expanded jobless benefits, dozens of states began dropping the expanded federal aid starting last month: Roughly half the states will end the $300 payments. Most of those will also cut off unemployment assistance to the self-employed, gig workers and people who have been out of work for more than six months. Nationally, the $300-a-week federal benefit will end Sept. 6.

The data firm Homebase reported that employment has actually grown more slowly in the states that had dropped the federal benefits than in those that kept it.

The job market’s improvement comes against the backdrop of a fast-rebounding economy. Growth for the just-ended April-June quarter is believed to have reached an annual pace of roughly 10%. And according to an index produced by the Conference Board, a private research group, consumer confidence nearly regained its pre-pandemic level in May.

With consumers feeling more confident about spending, the rate of jobless claims, which generally reflects the pace of layoffs, has dwindled over the past several months. The weekly figure had topped 900,000 back in January, when the economy was still struggling to emerge from the recession and employers were retrenching.

Despite the significant improvement since then, claims remain high by historic standards. Before the pandemic flattened the economy in March 2020, the weekly figure typically numbered around 220,000.

All told, 3.47 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits in the week of June 19, up from 3.41 million a week earlier. If you include the federal benefits, 14.7 million were receiving some type of unemployment assistance during the week of June 12, down from 32.1 million a year earlier.

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Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


12 comments

  • Kelly Johnson

    July 2, 2021 at 7:18 am

    Ridiculous! This is such a lie. In Florida everyone is locked out of claiming or even starting new claims. So no new claims can be counted!
    We are blocked from the connect system
    Constant crashes
    Report on the truth the whole thing truth please.

  • Colton

    July 2, 2021 at 8:45 am

    I have been attempting to access Connect for the past 81 hours. None of us are able to get logged into claim weeks. Waiting room for 3 hours, then kicked out repeatedly. Florida’s system is broken and a joke!!!

  • Cassie

    July 2, 2021 at 8:53 am

    The reason the numbers are so low is because FLORIDA DEO, after over a year still have a system designed to make it impossible to claim benefits. I have been trying to login for 2 days.

  • Kay

    July 2, 2021 at 9:02 am

    Unfortunately it’s only fallen because no one can get in!!!! And then when you try you get booted out CONSTANTLY!!!!! The system is broken and NEEDS TO BE FIXED!!! NOT lied about!

  • Dont

    July 2, 2021 at 9:16 am

    The numbers are low because WE CANT ACCESS THE SITE.

    Stop posting fake stats.

    We’re all still very much struggling.

  • Donna

    July 2, 2021 at 10:24 am

    No one can get into the system to file a claim. I haven’t been able to reach anyone in over 2 months. Way to rig the system to post fake statistics.

  • J. Dollard

    July 2, 2021 at 11:13 am

    To Florida Politics and the AP Reporter(s) who wrote this piece:
    In order to report correctly on this issue, you must dig a lot deeper to find verifiable information on unemployment in Florida, as thousands of unemployed workers are currently unable to get into the DEO’s Connect system to certify for benefits and ironically, to log their required work searches. If the system isn’t operating and/or keeps breaking down, you should assume the unemployment numbers being reported in Florida aren’t accurate. More in-depth reporting must be done covered the continued problems in Florida’s unemployment system, one of the worst — if not the worst — in the United States AND what reforms are needed not only in the Sunshine State, but all over the country to make UI accessible, reliable and equitable. Unemployed workers who are looking for work (meaning good jobs aligned with workers’ skills, education and experience) should not have to struggle and waste hours — sometimes days, weeks and months — to get the benefits they are legally entitled to.

  • Erin

    July 2, 2021 at 11:27 am

    This can’t possibly be accurate… the DEO system is broken – literally spending hours upon hours trying to log in to put in claim. If this is some manipulation to try & “get people back to work” – it’s an epic fail. It’s gross.

  • Jina Reyngoudt

    July 2, 2021 at 11:30 am

    All because Everyone is locked out so your numbers are lies…Even after making me go through video ID me,& Danque telling me that everything gets recorded and they would be sending it to the office notifying them of deo not unlocking US we all are still waiting!

  • Adam

    July 2, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    I was laid off from my company that closed down on the 26th of April. Filed unemployment the next day.

    Here we are, 7/2/21 and I still haven’t received any help. The system doesn’t work and I can’t get a hold of anyone.

  • Rt

    July 2, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    The system is just kicking everyone out or putting them on hold. Waited an hour an half to get in Thurs evening and got the login loop several times. Numbers aren’t accurate when they count every job listing, some fake or redundant, and people are giving up just out of frustration with the system.
    If DEO has so much info on us then give us the REAL numbers.

  • Harvey

    July 6, 2021 at 6:40 am

    Like everyone else here, I have been unable to get into Connect since Monday, June 28. You would think that the homepage would provide some messaging but no.

    http://www.floridajobs.org/

    It is also impossible to contact anyone by phone as you are bombarded with unnecessary marketing messages for about 2-3 minutes only to be disconnected, because they claim everyone is busy.

    Lastly, their new reemployment assistance center offers no help and email communication is a joke.

Comments are closed.


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