U.S. jobless claims fall to pandemic-era low.

In another sign that the national economy is in recovery, the U.S. Department of Labor reports weekly jobless claims fell to the lowest level in more than a year.

In the week ending May 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 444,000, a decrease of 34,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 5,000 from 473,000 to 478,000. The 4-week moving average was 504,750, a decrease of 30,500 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week’s average was revised up by 1,250 from 534,000 to 535,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.7 percent for the week ending May 8, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

The Associated Press reports on the drop.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 444,000, a new pandemic low and a sign that the job market keeps strengthening as consumers spend freely again, viral infections drop and business restrictions ease.

There has been growing concern that employers are having difficulty filling open positions, a situation that could slow the recovery as businesses attempt to reopen to full capacity. The AP writes,

The data release coincides with rapid moves by nearly all the nation’s Republican governors to cut off a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit that they and many business executives blame for discouraging the unemployed from seeking jobs. Those cutoffs of federal jobless aid will begin in June.


Eliminating the $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit is among measures that states have taken to restrict or eliminate jobless aid and press more recipients to seek work. That trend gained momentum after the April jobs report, released earlier this month, showed that employers added far fewer jobs than expected, in part because many couldn’t find enough workers.

Although evidence of a rebounding economy is strong, concerns remain. For example,

As the economy quickly recovers from the pandemic recession, consumers are showing more confidence and spending at a healthy rate. Most economists think the economy could expand 7% this year, which would amount to the fastest annual growth in more than 35 years.

Yet the rapid reopening from the pandemic has created a wide range of supply shortages that have disrupted what economists had hoped would be a smooth rebound. Home building fell sharply in April, for example, as builders struggled with shortages of lumber and labor.

Mostly good news.