Fri, 24 Mar 2023

WASHINGTON D.C.: After another drop in jobless aid applications last week, the number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell to a 52-year low.

On February 25, the U.S. Labor Department said jobless claims fell by 17,000, from 249,000 to 232,000 for the week ending 19th February.

Amidst the spread of the Omicron variant, which disrupted the economies in many parts of the U.S., the four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, fell by 7,250 to 236,250, the third straight week of declines, after rising for five straight weeks.

In the week that ended on 5th February, 1,476,000 Americans collected jobless aid, a decrease of some 112,000 from the previous week and the lowest level since March 14, 1970, the government said.

First-time applications for jobless aid generally track the pace of layoffs, which are back down to fairly healthy pre-pandemic levels.

Earlier this month, an unprecedented acceleration of hiring in January was reported by the Labor Department, with employers adding 467,000 jobs. It also revised upward its prediction for job gains in November and December by a combined 709,000.

As more people began looking for work, but not all of them immediately securing employment, the unemployment rate edged up to a still-low 4 percent from 3.9 percent.

After considerable government spending and the vaccine rollout boosted the economy, employers added a record 6.4 million jobs in 2021, with the U.S. economy expanding 5.7 percent, growing last year at the fastest annual rate since a 7.2 percent surge in 1984.

Inflation is also at 7.5 percent year-over-year, a 40-year high, leading the Federal Reserve to ease its monetary support for the economy.

It also indicated that it would begin a series of interest-rate hikes in March, reversing policies during the COVID-19 pandemic that fueled hiring and growth.

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