Pandemic Low in Weekly Jobless Claims Hit Below 400,000

The number of filled first-time claims for unemployment benefits dropped below 400,000 last week for the first time in more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started, which could be an early sign of strengthening labor market despite a worker shortage, Reuters reports quoting the Labor Department.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a 385,000 for the last week of May compared to 405,000 in the prior week, which was the lowest since mid-March 2020, when mandatory closures of nonessential businesses were enforced.

Global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas also issued report on Thursday showing layoffs were down 93.8% compared to May 2020 although announced job cuts rose 7% last month to 24,586. In the first five months of 2021, U.S. based employers have announced 192,185 layoffs, down 86% compared to the same period last year.

Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” report showed that labor market shifts in a time when businesses across all industries and regions are reporting despite nearly 10 million officially unemployed Americans, it’s difficult finding workers, especially skilled tradespeople.

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