Continued Weekly Unemployment Claims Decline While New Claims Increase Following Last Week’s 54-Year Low

Woman filling out an online unemployment benefits application form.
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In the week ending April 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was slightly up at 185,000, an increase of 18,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the Labor Department. The previous week’s jobless level was revised up by 1,000 from 166,000 to 167,000 — still the lowest level since November 1968.

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Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated new claims would rise to 172,000, according to MarketWatch.

Despite the slight weekly increase, the figure underscores how far the job market has recovered. Indeed, for the corresponding week a year ago, claims were standing at 571,000 according to Labor Department data. The four-week moving average was 172,250, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

Jeanniey Walden, Chief Marketing Officer at DailyPay, told GOBanmingRates “don’t be fooled by the headline print showing jobless claims rising to 185,000. The more reliable 4-week moving average barely moved from last week’s historic print of 170,000, while continuing claims resumed their downward trend,” she said. “The gap between labor supply and demand continues to grow and companies have managed their involuntary turnover to the absolute bare minimum.”

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She continued, “So what else can employers do? Well, we’re seeing more and more forward-thinking employers adopt cutting-edge technology solutions that activate their workforces. They’ve decided to take agency over this labor crisis and it is already returning dividends in terms of higher productivity and retention.”

Missouri, Michigan, California and Florida saw the largest increases in claims for the week, while Ohio and Wisconsin saw the largest decreases, according to Labor Department data.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 2 were in Ohio (+1,509), Pennsylvania (+1,478), California (+1,082), Illinois (+509), and Florida (+466), while the largest decreases were in Michigan (-2,491), Texas (-2,487), New Jersey (-1,105), Kentucky (-1,046), and New York (-866).

Garrett Downes, CEO of Better Bears Foods, said that while claims rose a bit, “it is important to note that it remained near a half century low.”

“I believe that following the pandemic, people are really eager to go back to work and feel productive and “normal” again. We will continue to see a rise in the number of job applications. As a CEO, I have noticed people’s eagerness to get jobs following the very uncertain times that we all had to endure. There is a record of job openings in my industry and very few layoffs which is a sign that we are on the road to recovery and that we will continue to see a positive trend of higher employment numbers,” he said.

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Speaking on April 13, Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen said that “by many metrics, labor markets are as tight right now in the United States as they really ever have been in my lifetime, including the end of the 1960s when the unemployment rate, I believe, drifted down below 3 percent,” according to a transcript of her speech.

“It is a tricky situation because we’ve had high inflation over the last year somewhat more,” she said.

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On April 1, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released March’s total nonfarm payroll employment, which rose by 431,000 in March, below analysts’ expectations and significantly lower than February’s 678,000. Notable job gains continued in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade and manufacturing. 

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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