Weekly Jobless Claims Are Below 500,000 for First Time since Start of Pandemic

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In yet another positive sign that the economy is on its way up, the weekly number of unemployment claims went down again, even exceeding analysts’ expectations. This is the first week since the pandemic started that the numbers are below 500,000.

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For the week ending May 1, the weekly number of unemployment claims fell to 498,000, a decrease of 92,000 from the previous week’s revised level, according to the Labor Department. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020, when it was 225,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 37,000, from 553,000 to 590,000

Economists expected workers to file for 527,000 initial unemployment claims last week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“We are seeing fewer and fewer people file for unemployment benefits, which signals that more people are finding new opportunities and building their careers. Now, it is the responsibility of companies to invest in their teams,” Thanos Papangelis, CEO and co-founder of software technology provider Epignosis, tells GOBankingRates.

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“Rather than allocating resources to recruiting more talent, companies need to focus on their current employees, help them grow professionally and give them opportunities to learn and acquire new skills,” he adds.

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To put these latest 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. However, for the week ending May 2, 2020 claims stood at 2,784,000.

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Yesterday, ADP announced that private sector employment increased by 742,000 jobs in April, boosted by the leisure and hospitality sector. While it represents the strongest month since September, it’s still short of estimates, according to ADP.

The labor market continues an upward trend of acceleration and growth, posting the strongest reading since September 2020,” Nela Richardson, chief economist, ADP, said in a statement. “Service providers have the most to gain as the economy reopens, recovers and resumes normal activities and are leading job growth in April. While payrolls are still more than 8 million jobs short of pre-COVID-19 levels, job gains have totaled 1.3 million in the last two months after adding only about 1 million jobs over the course of the previous five months.”

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