Weekly Jobless Claims Decline By 14K, Almost Reaching Pre-Pandemic Level

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Weekly jobless claims came in better than expected in the week ending Oct. 30, coming in 269,000, representing a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week. The Department of Labor states that this is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020, when the figure was 256,000. 

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The four-week moving average, a figure used as a better measure for overall volatility, was 284,750 representing a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week’s revised average. This is also the lowest level since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. 

The numbers come amidst the official ending of pandemic era assistance programs for the unemployed. Federal unemployment assistance supplements ended in September, after historic aid for the unemployed during the pandemic and economic recovery. 

During the week ending Oct. 16, extended benefits were available in only the following four states: Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Mexico. 

The claims report comes a day before the Labor Department’s closely watched nonfarm payrolls count, which is expected to show growth of 450,000 for October, CNBC reports.

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The labor market has experienced difficulty in fully recovering from the pandemic. For months, there have been more available positions than there have been willing workers to fill them. Many argued that prolonged unemployment benefits from both state and federal governments prolonged workers’ unwillingness to return to work, along with slow vaccination rates and Delta variant fears. 

Recent jobs reports and weekly jobless claims suggest the economy is slowly recovering and workers are more willing to return to work. The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Oct. 23, were in the District of Columbia with 3,875 and Kentucky with 2,940 followed by Missouri with 2,048, Florida with 1,307 and Oklahoma with 1,256.

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The states with the largest decreases in initial claims for the week ending Oct. 23 were California (13,138) and Georgia (4,107).

Although a reduction in jobless claims shows signs of hope, U.S. productivity growth was worse than expected, falling 5% against the expected 3.2% — the biggest quarterly drop since the second quarter of 1981, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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