Jobless claims fall closer to pre-pandemic levels, hitting 364K
New weekly jobless claims dropped sharply last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, hitting a new post-lockdown low.
The seasonally adjusted total of initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 364,000 in the week ending June 26, a decline of 51,000 from the previous week. After rising for the first time since April last week, new weekly jobless claims have dropped to their lowest level since March 14, 2020.
Another 3,489 workers also applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a program expanding jobless aid to gig workers, contractors and others who do not typically qualify for unemployment insurance. PUA claims are expected to drop sharply next week, with 26 states set to pull out of the program in July, and many states have already seen claims drop to zero.
Overall, more than 14 million Americans were on some form of jobless aid in the week ending June 12, less than half of the 32 million who were receiving it at the same time last year.
While jobless claims data is volatile and often skewed by state-level quirks, the decline is the latest positive sign of labor market improvement ahead of Friday’s federal jobs report. Economists expect the U.S. to have added roughly 700,000 jobs in June, which would be a strong improvement from May’s gain of 559,000 jobs.
The June jobs report comes as President Biden and White House officials try to rally support behind an ambitious economic agenda as Republicans seize on rising prices and hiccups in the recovery.
Updated at 9:51 a.m.