U.S. job market recovery accelerated pace last week as fewer Americans went toward the unemployment line, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Initial unemployment insurance claims amounted to 547,000, which was below the Dow Jones estimate of 603,000 and a new low for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The total number represented a further decrease in requirements and gets the job picture closer to where it was pre-pandemic, although there is still plenty of distance to cover.
The markets reacted slightly to the news, with stock futures pointing to a flat open and government bond yields mixed.
As Covid-19 cases are declining and more states are easing business restrictions, companies are once again looking to hire ahead of what is expected to be a summer of near-normal activity across the United States
“This dip in jobless claims looks good in isolation, but what really matters is that it confirms that last week’s unexpected leap was nothing,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “We expect further declines in the next few months as reopening continues, while wage growth accelerates markedly.”
There are still approx. 8 million fewer Americans at work than before pandemic outbreaks.
Thursday’s report showed that both unemployment and underemployment remain significant problems for the US economy.
There are still 17.4 million Americans receiving benefits under the various programs that are in place, even though this data runs two weeks behind the number of headline claims. Sharp increases in those applying for benefits through pandemic-related programs increased the total recipients by almost half a million.
Continued claims running a week behind the headline data also fell, dropping 34,000 to 3.67 million, a new pandemic and another indication that conditions have thawed.
Despite the persistent problems for workers, progress with Covid, particularly the approximately 3 million vaccines administered daily, has helped clear up what had been the worst and fastest job loss in American history.
Unemployed claims reached a staggering 6.2 million in early April 2020 in the first days of the economic downturn, ruling out the previous record of 695,000 in October 1982. Since the peak peak last year, the number has fallen but remains stubborn high and fell only last week during the pre-pandemic record.
Last week, the Federal Reserve’s periodic targets for business growth in its 12 districts showed difficulties in finding workers.
“Employment remained a widespread challenge, especially for low-paid or hourly workers, with restraint
job growth in some cases, “said the report, known as the Beige Book.
The national unemployment rate remains at 6%, far from the highest pandemic of 14.7%, but still significantly above the 50-year low of 3.5% just before the shutdown.