US jobless claims fall to 364,000, a new pandemic low

The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell again last week to the lowest level since the pandemic struck last year, further evidence that the job market and the broader economy are rebounding rapidly from the coronavirus recession.

Posted: Jul 1, 2021 4:40 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell again last week to the lowest level since the pandemic struck last year, further evidence that the job market and the broader economy are rebounding rapidly from the coronavirus recession.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims dropped by 51,000 to 364,000. Applications for unemployment benefits have fallen more or less steadily since the year began. The rollout of vaccines has sharply reduced new COVID-19 cases, giving consumers the confidence to shop, travel, eat out and attend public events as the economy recovers.

Last week's drop in jobless claims was steeper than economists had expected. Applications for unemployment benefits have now fallen in 10 of the past 12 weeks.

"As life normalizes and the service sector continues to gain momentum, we expect initial jobless claims to remain in a downtrend,'' said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at the consulting firm Maria Fiorini Ramirez.

All that pent-up spending has generated such demand for workers, notably at restaurants and tourism businesses, that many employers have been struggling to fill jobs just as the number of posted openings has reached a record high. But many economists expect hiring to catch up with demand in the coming months, especially as federal unemployment aid programs end and more people pursue jobs.

On Friday, according to the data provider FactSet, the government is expected to report that employers added 675,000 jobs in June. That would be a substantial number but still not at a pace that would allow the economy to quickly regain its pre-pandemic level of employment. The job market remains nearly 7 million jobs short of that level.

Some businesses have complained that expanded federal aid to the unemployed — especially a $300-a-week supplemental benefit, intended to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic — has discouraged some people from looking for a job.

But other factors, too, are believed to have contributed to the shortage of people seeking work again: Difficulty arranging or affording child care, lingering fears of COVID-19, early retirements by older workers, a slowdown in immigration and a decision by some people to seek new careers rather than return to their old jobs.

Responding to the criticism about the duration of expanded jobless benefits, dozens of states began dropping the expanded federal aid starting last month: Roughly half the states will end the $300 payments. Most of those will also cut off unemployment assistance to the self-employed, gig workers and people who have been out of work for more than six months. Nationally, the $300-a-week federal benefit will end Sept. 6.

The data firm Homebase reported that employment has actually grown more slowly in the states that had dropped the federal benefits than in those that kept it.

The job market’s improvement comes against the backdrop of a fast-rebounding economy. Growth for the just-ended April-June quarter is believed to have reached an annual pace of roughly 10%. And according to an index produced by the Conference Board, a private research group, consumer confidence nearly regained its pre-pandemic level in May.

With consumers feeling more confident about spending, the rate of jobless claims, which generally reflects the pace of layoffs, has dwindled over the past several months. The weekly figure had topped 900,000 back in January, when the economy was still struggling to emerge from the recession and employers were retrenching.

Despite the significant improvement since then, claims remain high by historic standards. Before the pandemic flattened the economy in March 2020, the weekly figure typically numbered around 220,000.

All told, 3.47 million people were receiving traditional state unemployment benefits in the week of June 19, up from 3.41 million a week earlier. If you include the federal benefits, 14.7 million were receiving some type of unemployment assistance during the week of June 12, down from 32.1 million a year earlier.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845108

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161242006
Mobile741961379
Madison53291732
Shelby38328368
Baldwin38074589
Tuscaloosa36017641
Montgomery34483781
Lee25557263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22454406
Etowah20016517
Marshall18781316
Houston17729425
St. Clair16880358
Limestone16138218
Cullman16050303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14984306
Talladega14191299
DeKalb12971269
Walker12029380
Blount10715192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10161194
Coffee9415192
Colbert9341208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7255201
Russell707865
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5403130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317763
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 54°
Columbus
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 54°
Oxford
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 54°
Starkville
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 54°
We are starting off cold once again this morning with temperatures in the 30's, some below freezing and with a slight north wind it is feeling even colder. High pressure builds back into our area today with more sunshine.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather