U.S. weekly unemployment claims climb to 719,000 following last week’s drop to annual low.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports an uptick in unemployment benefit claims last week.

In the week ending March 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 719,000, an increase of 61,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 26,000 from 684,000 to 658,000. The 4-week moving average was 719,000, a decrease of 10,500 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 down by 6,500 from 736,000 to 729,500.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.7 percent for the week ending March 20, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 20 was 3,794,000, a decrease of 46,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 30,000 from 3,870,000 to 3,840,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,978,500, a decrease of 147,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 5,000 from 4,120,750 to 4,125,750.

This follows last week’s announcement that claims had fallen below 700,000 for the first time in a year. A bright spot in today’s report is that last week’s numbers were revised downward. 

The chart below shows that the trend remains encouraging.

The Associated Press reports,

the four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week gyrations, fell by 10,500 to 719,000 — the fewest since mid-March 2020, just before the pandemic began to cause widespread layoffs.

Better news is expected.

measures of the overall economy show clear improvement from the collapse last spring, with the rising number of vaccinations encouraging people to return to airports, shopping centers, restaurants and bars. The number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases has dropped from an average of about 250,000 a day in early January to below 70,000, though it has begun to rise again in recent days.

Last month, consumer confidence reached a post-pandemic peak. And the $1,400 checks in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic relief plan have sharply lifted consumer spending, according to Bank of America’s tracking of its debit and credit cards. Spending jumped 23% in the third week of March compared with pre-pandemic levels, the bank said.

And even with the pace of layoffs still relatively high, hiring has begun to accelerate. In February, employers added a robust 379,000 jobs across the country.