Weekly Jobless Claims at Lowest Level Since Nov. 28, 2020

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The weekly number of unemployment claims decreased finally and is at its lowest since Nov. 28, 2020, according to Labor Department data.

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New claims fell to 730,000 for the week ending Feb. 20, according to the Department of Labor, compared to estimates of 845,000 made by economists surveyed by Dow Jones, CNBC says. For the week ending Nov. 28, 2020, jobless claims stood at 716,000.

This new figure also represents a 111,000 decrease from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 20,000 to 841,000 from 861,000, according to the Labor Department.

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. 15, 2020, the figure stood at 215,000 claims, according to Labor Department data.

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While these new figures are encouraging, the economy and the labor market are still struggling. Testifying earlier this week before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated that the economy will continue to depend on the course of the virus and the measures undertaken to control its spread, according to his opening remarks.

Powell said that while there was a sharp rebound in economic activity last summer, momentum has slowed substantially, with the weakness concentrated in the sectors most adversely affected by the resurgence of the virus. He added that the improvement in the labor market has slowed. Since the last three months ending in January, employment rose at an average monthly rate of only 29,000.

“Continued progress in many industries has been tempered by significant losses in industries such as leisure and hospitality, where the resurgence in the virus and increased social distancing have weighed further on activity. The unemployment rate remained elevated at 6.3% in January, and participation in the labor market is notably below pre-pandemic levels.”

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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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