US Jobless Claims Hit Lowest Level Since Pandemic Began

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Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims dipped to 751,000 the week ending Oct. 24, some 40,000 lower than the previous week’s revised levels, according to the Thursday (Oct. 29) report from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). That’s the lowest level since the pandemic began, although it’s still far higher than the 282,000 claims filed the week ended March 14 as the outbreak and related shutdowns were just starting.

The Labor Department also revised the number of jobless claims filed in the week ended Oct. 17 to 791,000, up 4,000 from initial estimates. However, the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate dropped 0.5 percent from the previous week’s revised rate to 5.3 percent for the week ending Oct. 17. The previous week’s rate was revised from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent.

Overall, the number of people claiming jobless benefits of any kind for the week ending Oct. 10 dropped 415,727 to 22.7 million. But comparatively, the total number of people filing for benefits in the same week last year was only 1.4 million.

During the week ending Oct. 10, the following 44 states were offering extended unemployment: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Unemployment has been high since the pandemic began. Since the week ending March 20, more than 55 million individuals have filed for new unemployment insurance claims.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Oct. 17 were in Massachusetts (+5,442), Kansas (+3,010), Virginia (+2,255), Texas (+616) and Minnesota (+493), while the largest decreases were in California (-16,207), New York (-11,495), Georgia (-9,274), Florida (-7,834) and Michigan (-7,774).

The federal program that pays benefits to gig workers, freelancers, contractors and part-timers is scheduled to lapse at the end of the year without additional congressional aid.

Unemployment numbers don’t take into account the people who have simply stopped looking for a job. The labor force is shrinking in size by more than 50 percent in the 30 states where unemployment rates have fallen, it was reported last week.

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