Applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits dropped for a fourth consecutive week, a trend that suggests labor market conditions are improving as the economy recovers.
Initial unemployment claims in regular state programs dropped by 29,000 to 348,000 in the week ending Aug. 14, which is a pandemic low. Labor Department data showed that economists in a Bloomberg survey had called for a decline to 364,000. Continuing claims for state benefits fell to 2.8 million in the week ended Aug. 7, also the lowest since the pandemic began.
The decrease in initial claims points to business getting stronger and fewer dismissals as economic activity improves. Some states and cities have reintroduced mask mandates in recent weeks in response to coronavirus variants, and businesses have pushed back their return-to-office plans.
Texas and Illinois posted the largest declines in initial claims last week. Virginia posted the largest increase, followed by New Mexico and California. The initial claim figures coincide with the survey week for the Labor Department’s monthly job report. Continuing claims in all programs declined to 11.7 million in the week ended July 31. That compares to a high of about 32.8 million in June 2020.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: YORK DISPATCH
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