Business News: Unemployment claims hit new low for third week in a row as jobs market improves.
Weekly jobless claims fell to a pandemic low for the third straight week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, with 553,000 Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits for the week ending April 24. That marks a 13,000 decrease from the previous week, putting the insured unemployment rate at around 2.6 percent, the Labor Department said.
While the demands remain high, the trajectory signals that the increase in the number of vaccinations, the easing of trade restrictions and the warmer climate are helping to heal the labor market. The losing streak began in mid-April, with a surprise drop of more than 175,000. Now, economists say they think the trend will continue.
“With more city news expected to fully reopen in the coming months and vaccinations ramping up rapidly, we’re starting to see real firepower behind an economic payback,” said Chris Larkin, chief executive of commerce at E-Trade on Thursday. emailed to the Washington Post.
States reported 121,749 initial requests for pandemic unemployment assistance, for employed and self-employed workers, for the week ending April 24. There have been nearly 7 million ongoing PUA claims, for benefits due to expire in September.
There are a myriad of signs of a bright outlook. The U.S. economic recovery picked up speed in early 2021, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, with economic growth reaching 1.6% in the first three months of the year. The January-March period saw some of the fastest economic growth in over four decades, behind only the initial peak of 7.5% last year when businesses first reopened. from arrests due to pandemics.
Promising economic data, plus strong corporate earnings, helped drive the S&P 500 to another record close. It added 28.29 points, or 0.7%, to close at 4,211.47. According to the Wall Street Journal, the benchmark index has risen more than 10% since Biden’s inauguration, putting him on track to have the best kickoff in the first-term markets of any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. The high-tech Nasdaq jumped 31.52 points, or 0.2%, to close at 14,082.55, while the Dow Jones industry average climbed 239.98, or 0.7%, to close at 34,060.36.
“The US economy will enjoy a few more months of stunning data releases on vaccinations, stimulus controls and pent-up consumer demand,” OANDA financial analyst Ed Moya said Thursday in e-mailed comments to The Post. “The prospects for the second half are in the air, but for now everyone wants to ride this latest big wave of growth.”
Consumer confidence rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in April, according to the Conference Board, as stimulus and improving labor market conditions left households feeling better about their incomes. During this period last year, more than 3.4 million Americans were applying for initial unemployment benefits, and the national unemployment rate was between 15 and 20 percent. “How do I file for unemployment” was the most searched question on Google across the nation last year, according to research. from CenturyLinkQuote.com.
But there is still a long way to go. More more than 17 million Americans received unemployment benefits across all programs this month. In 2019, the average weekly initial claims was around 218,000. Meanwhile, poverty rose to 11.7 percent in March, the highest level of the pandemic, according to the research from the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame, while the Americans awaited the next round of stimulus aid. Children and women were hit hardest by the spike, the researchers said.
Many economists describe the recovery as “K-shaped” due to its divergent prospects for rich and poor. But the gap is also fragmenting across gender lines. The US economy recovered 916,000 positions in March, but only about a third of these were taken back by women. Women would need nearly 15 consecutive months of job earnings to last month’s level to make up for the more than 4.6 million net jobs lost since February 2020, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion March coronavirus aid package expanded unemployment eligibility and extended some unemployment benefits through September, including the $ 300 weekly benefit offered by the states.