Weekly jobless claims post sharp drop to 310,000, another new pandemic low

  • Weekly jobless claims totaled 310,000 for the week ended Sept. 4, another fresh low for the pandemic era.
  • That was below the Dow Jones estimate of 335,000 and a decline from the previous week’s 345,000.
  • Continuing claims fell to 2.78 million, a drop of 22,000.

First-time filings for unemployment claims in the U.S. dropped to 310,000 last week, easily the lowest of the Covid era and a significant step towards the pre-pandemic normal, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Claims were expected to total 335,000 for the week ended Sept. 4, according to economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

The total for the week ended Sept. 4 represented a substantial drop from the previous week's 345,000 and is the lowest since March 14, 2020.

Claims had been trending around 215,000 prior to when the pandemic was declared in March 2020. At their peak, initial filings hit 6.1 million and held above 1 million a week until early August 2020. A year ago at this time, weekly claims averaged 881,000.

Concerns have escalated in recent weeks around the employment picture, particularly after the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls increased just 235,000 in August, about one-third of what Wall Street had been expecting.

The claims numbers, though, have been averaging 339,500 over the past four weeks and lend support to a labor market recovery.

Continuing claims, which run a week behind the headline number, dropped as well, falling to 2.78 million, a decrease of 22,000 from the previous week but was higher than the FactSet estimate for 2.73 million. That also is the lowest level since March 14, 2020. The four-week moving average for continuing claims dropped to 2.84 million.

Total recipients under all unemployment programs declined to 11.93 million, a drop of 255,757 as the federal extended benefits expire this month.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.

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