US Jobless Claims Fall to 406,000, a New Pandemic Low

May 27, 2021by Christopher Rugaber, AP Economics Writer
In this photo from May 5, 2021, a truck passes a sign showing a need to hire laborers outside a concrete products company in Evans City, Pa. Pennsylvania will resume work search requirements in July for hundreds of thousands of people receiving unemployment compensation, a top Wolf administration official said Monday, May 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to 406,000, a new pandemic low and more evidence that the job market is strengthening as the virus wanes and economy further reopens.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that applications declined 38,000 from 444,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly applications for jobless aid — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has fallen by more than half since January. 

The decline in applications reflects a swift rebound in economic growth. The government separately estimated Thursday that the economy expanded at a strong  annual pace of 6.4% in the first three months of this year, unchanged from its initial estimate. More Americans are venturing out to shop, travel, dine out and congregate at entertainment venues. All that renewed spending has led companies to seek new workers, which helps explain why a record number of jobs is now being advertised. 

Yet many businesses complain that they can’t find enough applicants for all those open jobs, even though the unemployment rate remains 6.1%, well above the 3.5% rate that prevailed before the pandemic struck in March of last year. Job growth slowed sharply last month compared with March, a surprise pullback that was largely ascribed to a labor shortage in some industries.

Economists blame a range of factors for the shortfall of workers, including an extra $300-a-week payment that people receiving jobless aid have been able to get, on top of their state unemployment check, since March. The federal benefit was included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package. With many people able to earn more from their combined federal and state jobless aid than from their former jobs, the extra income has likely discouraged some of the unemployed from seeking work, some analysts say.

Other people remain reluctant to take jobs in restaurants, hotels and other service industries for fear of contracting COVID-19. And some women can’t return to work without adequate child care, though recent research by two economists  found the impact of this factor to be relatively small. 

Complaints from businesses that they can’t find enough workers have led most Republican governors to curtail unemployment aid. Twenty-four states, including such populous ones as Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona, have said they will stop paying out the supplemental $300-a-week federal jobless payment beginning in June.

Twenty of those states also say they will stop participating in two emergency programs. One of those programs covers self-employed and gig workers. The other provides aid to people who have been unemployed for more than six months. The cutoffs of those two programs could cost at least 2.5 million people all their jobless aid.

In The News

Health

Voting

Employment

Researchers: More Voices Needed to Shape Future of Work
In The News
Researchers: More Voices Needed to Shape Future of Work
June 7, 2021
by Dan McCue

A quartet of researchers in the United Kingdom say while the COVID-19 pandemic forced employers and employees alike into a “mass experiment” of workplace adjustments, the real work on what the future of work will look like is only just beginning. The researchers are Oliver Mallett,... Read More

US Jobs Edging Back to Normalcy as Pandemic Recedes
Employment
US Jobs Edging Back to Normalcy as Pandemic Recedes
June 4, 2021
by Victoria Turner

The U.S. employment situation seems to be edging closer to normalcy with the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing a 1.7% decline in teleworking employees. This indicates more people are returning to the office, but it remains uncertain whether it is fully in-person or a... Read More

New Dems Outline Infrastructure Priorities for American Jobs Plan
Congress
New Dems Outline Infrastructure Priorities for American Jobs Plan
June 4, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - The House New Democrat Coalition on Wednesday endorsed several bills its members say will modernize the nation’s infrastructure, create jobs and grow the economy. The coalition, led by Infrastructure task force co-chairs Carolyn Bourdeaux, of Georgia, and Norma Torres, of California, NDC Chair Suzan... Read More

US Jobless Claims Fall to 406,000, a New Pandemic Low
Employment
US Jobless Claims Fall to 406,000, a New Pandemic Low

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to 406,000, a new pandemic low and more evidence that the job market is strengthening as the virus wanes and economy further reopens. Thursday's report from the Labor Department showed that applications declined... Read More

Granholm Says Green Jobs a Matter of ‘Economic Patriotism’
Employment
Granholm Says Green Jobs a Matter of ‘Economic Patriotism’
May 17, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s push to tackle several crises at once has reenergized the push for green jobs or those jobs which contribute to preserving or restoring the environment, including those in traditional sectors, like manufacturing.  His American Jobs Plan, an infrastructure investment proposal that... Read More

Employee Input Critical for Digital Workplace Success
Employment
Employee Input Critical for Digital Workplace Success
May 14, 2021
by Victoria Turner

The transition to remote work this past year happened a lot more quickly than many expected, which suggests organizations were “already working in a digital environment, we just had not realized it,” said Tatyana Mamut, senior vice president of new products at Pendo yesterday. Companies have... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top