Weekly Jobless Claims at 684,000, the Lowest in a Year

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The weekly number of unemployment claims finally showed a significant decrease, standing at 684,000, exceeding economists’ expectations in a sign that the economy might be recovering. These are the lowest number in a year, when unemployment claims stood at 282,000 for the week ending March 14, 2020, according to Labor Department data.

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For the week ending March 20, the weekly number of unemployment claims decreased to 684,000, a 97,000 decrease from the previous week’s level, according to the Labor Department.

The previous week’s level was revised up by 11,000 from 770,000 to 781,000.

Economists expected 735,000 workers to file for initial unemployment benefits last week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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To put these figures in context, pre-pandemic, first-time unemployment benefit filers had typically numbered only about 225,000 weekly. For example, for the week ending Feb. 29, 2020, the figure stood at 217,000 claims, according to Labor Department data.

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An accelerated vaccination pace combined with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan are helping to start reopening the economy.

The Wall Street Journal reports that economists it surveyed this month raised their average forecast for 2021 economic growth to 5.95%, measured from the fourth quarter of last year to the same period this year, from a 4.87% projection in February’s survey. The higher figure would mark the fastest such pace in nearly four decades, according to the WSJ.

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Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, when announcing last week that the Fed would not raise rates until 2023, said that the economic recovery will depend on the course of the virus.

At the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Powell reiterated that statement and added, “The economic fallout has been real and widespread” but noted that “some of the very worst economic outcomes have been avoided by swift actions.”

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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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