The U.S. Department of Labor reports a large drop in the number of Americans filing for unemployment last week.
In the week ending February 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 730,000, a decrease of 111,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 20,000 from 861,000 to 841,000. The 4-week moving average was 807,750, a decrease of 20,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 5,000 from 833,250 to 828,250.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.1 percent for the week ending February 13, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate.
Progress, as the AP reports.
Key sectors of the economy, though, are showing signs of picking up as vaccinations increase and government rescue aid works its way through the economy. The Federal Reserve’s ultra-low-rate policy is providing key support, too.
Retail sales soared last month as many Americans spent the $600 checks that were included in a relief package enacted in December. Factory output also rose and has nearly regained its pre-pandemic levels. And sales of newly-built homes soared last month.
Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America, this week upgraded her forecast for growth this year to 6.5%, which would be the fastest since 1984. Daily coronavirus infections are down more than 70% from their peak, Meyer noted, which should lead to more states and cities relaxing business restrictions.
Calculated Risk notes,
Weekly claims were much lower than the consensus forecast…