WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plummeted last week to the lowest level in more than half a century, another sign that the U.S. job market is rebounding rapidly from last year’s coronavirus recession.
The lowest level of unemployment since November 1969 was 71,000 to 199,000. This drop was more than expected by economists.
The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly ups and downs, also dropped — by 21,000 to just over 252,000, the lowest since mid-March 2020 when the pandemic slammed the economy.
The number of applications has fallen since January when they reached 900,000. Now, however, it is below the preandemic rate of 220,000 per week. Jobless assistance claims are an indicator of layoffs.
In total, 2.25 million Americans received traditional unemployment checks in the week ending Nov. 13. This is slightly less than the week prior.
The federal government supplemented the state’s unemployment insurance programs with an additional $300 per week payment and extended benefits to gig workers, those out of work for at least six months and others. In June 2020, more than 33,000,000 Americans received some type of assistance from the federal programs.
After the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020 caused businesses to shut down or reduce hours, and many Americans were kept at home for their own safety, the market has seen a tremendous recovery. More than 22 million jobs were lost by employers between March 2018 and April 2017.
Government relief, extremely low interest rates, and the introduction of vaccines all combined gave consumers the financial confidence to spend again. As a result of an unanticipated surge in demand, employers have hired 18 million workers since April 2020. They are expecting to hire another 5575,000 people this month. However, 4 million jobs are still not available in the United States as compared to February 2020.
Companies now complain that they can’t find workers to fill job openings, a near-record 10.4 million in September. For the first time since decades workers are able to bargain. A record 4.4million quit September. This is a signal that they believe they can find better jobs.