Unemployment Hit Pandemic Low 05/06 07:44
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell
last week to 498,000, the lowest point since the viral pandemic struck 14
months ago and a sign of the job market's growing strength as businesses reopen
and consumers step up spending.
Thursday's report from the Labor Department showed that applications
declined 92,000 from a revised 590,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly
jobless claims -- a rough measure of the pace of layoffs -- has declined
significantly from a peak of 900,000 in January as employers have ramped up
At the same time, the pace of applications is still well above the roughly
230,000 level that prevailed before the viral outbreak tore through the economy
in March of last year.
As vaccinations have been more widely administered, restrictions on
businesses have gradually lifted and consumers have become more willing to
travel, shop and dine out, stronger spending has boosted hiring, slowed layoffs
and accelerated growth. The economy grew last quarter at a vigorous 6.4% annual
rate, with expectations that the current quarter will be even better.
In March, employers added nearly 1 million jobs, the most since August.
Roughly the same number is expected to be reported Friday when the government
issues the jobs report for April. Even so, the economy will still be more than
7 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level.