ALL NEWS

US jobless claims fall to 547,000, another pandemic low

Apr 22, 2021, 6:49 AM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:40 pm
FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, a hiring sign is displayed outside of McDonald's in Buffa...
FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, a hiring sign is displayed outside of McDonald's in Buffalo Grove, Ill. On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, McDonald’s said the company will mandate worker training to combat harassment, discrimination and violence in its restaurants worldwide starting in 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell last week to 547,000, a new low since the pandemic struck and a further encouraging sign that layoffs are slowing on the strength of an improving job market.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications declined 39,000 from a revised 586,000 a week earlier. Weekly jobless claims are down sharply from a peak of 900,000 in early January. At the same time, they’re still far above the roughly 250,000 level that prevailed before the viral outbreak ripped through the economy in March of last year.

About 17.4 million people were continuing to collect unemployment benefits in the week that ended April 3, the latest period for which data is available, up from 16.9 million in the previous week.

The overall job market is making steady gains. Last month, the nation’s employers adding 916,000 jobs, the most since August, in a sign that a sustained recovery is taking hold. The unemployment rate fell from 6.2% to 6%, well below the pandemic peak of nearly 15%.

Yet the still-high number of ongoing recipients shows that even as the economy has strengthened in recent weeks, millions of people — disproportionately low-income workers and people of color — continue to endure a loss of a job or income and have struggled to pay bills or rent.

The weekly data on applications for unemployment benefits is generally seen as a rough measure of layoffs because only people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own are eligible. But during the pandemic, the numbers have become a less reliable barometer.

Many states have struggled to clear backlogs of unemployment applications, and suspected fraud has clouded the actual volume of job cuts. In addition, a supplemental $300-a-week federal jobless payment, on top of regular state unemployment aid, might have encouraged more people to apply for benefits.

For now, the economy is showing steady signs of recovering. Sales at retail stores and restaurants soared 10% in March — the biggest increase since last May. Federal stimulus checks of $1,400 have been sent to most adults. And Americans who have kept their jobs have accumulated additional savings, part of which they will likely spend now that states and cities have loosened business restrictions and the virus wanes.

Economic growth is accelerating so fast that the principal concerns surrounding the economy have shifted from a high unemployment rate and anemic spending to bottlenecks in company supply chains and the difficulty some businesses say they are having in finding enough workers.

Those issues, in turn, have fed concerns that the Federal Reserve’s low-interest rate policies could fuel a spike in inflation. Last month, wholesale prices jumped 4.2% compared with a year earlier, the biggest 12-month increase in nearly a decade.

Still, consumer prices are, so far, rising at a more restrained pace. They increased 2.6% in March from a year earlier, mostly because of a jump in gas prices. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core inflation rose just 1.6% in the previous 12 months.

Economists expect inflation to rise steadily in the coming months because prices fell about a year ago when the pandemic first hit and the economy largely shut down. That makes comparisons to price levels a year ago look particularly large.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell says he expects that higher inflation to prove temporary and that supply bottlenecks will eventually clear as shipping picks up and factories produce more parts.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

View of a wooden Nativity Scene on display at the Christmas Market on the Main Market Square in Kra...
AJ Willingham, CNN

Nativity sets are getting a minimalist makeover

Brooklyn Swenson, an artist in Utah, says she drew on this inspiration for her brightly colored minimalist nativity set.
8 hours ago
Pfeifferhorn Avalanche...
Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah Avalanche Awareness Week is underway

To promote safety while recreating at Utah's ski resorts, the Utah Avalanche Center is holding it's fourth annual Avalanche Awareness Week.
8 hours ago
Kaylee Goncalves, Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen were killed off campus at the Unive...
Michelle Watson and Chris Boyette, CNN

Letters from surviving roommates read at church memorial service for slain University of Idaho students

Originally Published: 04 DEC 22 19:04 ET     (CNN) — At a memorial service for four University of Idaho students who were found stabbed to death last month, a pastor from an Idaho church read aloud letters from the surviving roommates, recalling their memories of their friends and sharing their sadness. Related: ‘Sketched out’ University of […]
8 hours ago
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10: Sesame Street cast member and film subject Bob McGrath attends a ...
Dan Heching and Chris Boyette, CNN

Bob McGrath, original ‘Sesame Street’ cast member, dead at 90

Bob McGrath, an original cast member of "Sesame Street," has died, according to statements from his family and Sesame Workshop.
8 hours ago
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 02: 
  Elon Musk attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Ant...
Ramishah Maruf, CNN

Elon Musk speaks out on ‘Twitter Files’ release detailing platform’s inner workings

Originally Published: 04 DEC 22 09:38 ET     (CNN) — Twitter owner Elon Musk spoke out on Saturday evening about the so-called “Twitter Files,” a long tweet thread posted by journalist Matt Taibbi, who had been provided with details about behind-the-scenes discussions on Twitter’s content moderation decision-making, including the call to suppress a 2020 New York […]
1 day ago
bomb threat Utah Tech...
Devin Oldroyd

Utah Tech student dies after falling from fifth-story balcony

A Utah Tech University student is dead after falling from a fifth-story balcony early Sunday morning. The death appears to be accidental.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
US jobless claims fall to 547,000, another pandemic low