Initial unemployment benefits were higher than expected last week, with 719,000 more workers crossing the unemployment line, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The sum compared to the Dow Jones estimate of 675,000 was higher than last week’s revised downward of 658,000.
While the number of weekly claims remains historically extraordinarily high, the trend is now declining as the U.S. economy continues to open and nearly 3 million Americans are given Covid-19 vacation days.
The ongoing claims, a week behind the headline, fell by 46,000 to just under 3.8 million.
In another sign of the downward trend in unemployment, the four-week moving average of claims fell to 719,000, its lowest level since March 14, 2020 when the pandemic began.
The total number of those receiving benefits also fell sharply, declining 1.5 million to 18.2 million, mainly due to a decrease in those receiving pandemic-related benefits. This dataset runs back two weeks.
The report comes a day ahead of the government’s non-farm workforce for March, which is projected to increase from 675,000, followed by 379,000 in February.
In addition to efforts to fight the virus, the Biden government continues to shovel money to stimulate an economy that is showing signs of solid growth. The president on Thursday tabled a $ 2 trillion spending plan that builds on more than $ 5 trillion in incentives either already issued or announced for programs aimed at getting the nation out of the slump .
While the pace of employment growth slowed at the beginning of winter, recent evidence suggests that hiring has picked up.
Payroll firm ADP estimated the companies hired 517,000 people in March, the fastest pace since September. Recent manufacturing reports also show plans for more hires, and job gains appear to be strongest in the ailing hospitality sector, which has suffered the worst losses from social distancing and government-imposed restrictions.
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