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New unemployment claims in U.S. fall closer to level before COVID-19 slowdown

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New unemployment claims in U.S. fall closer to level before COVID-19 slowdown
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York City. Thursday's jobless report said the number of workers who filed new claims last week declined slightly, but was still a new low for the coronavirus era. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- New unemployment filings in the United States have declined slightly, but are still close to setting a mark not seen since before the economic impact of COVID-19 arrived very early in 2020.

The Labor Department said in its weekly jobless report on Thursday that 268,000 U.S. workers filed new claims last week -- a decline of about 1,000 filings.

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The new figure sets a new low for the COVID-19 era, but is still about 12,000 claims off the prepandemic mark of 256,000 in February 2020, a time when most analysts agree that the coronavirus outbreak had yet to fully begin affecting the U.S. economy.

Thursday's report also revised last week's figure up by 2,000 filings.

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The department said the four-week moving average for first-time claims was 272,750, a decline of almost 6,000 from the previous week. There were 2.08 million continuing claims, which lag initial claims by a week.

States that saw the greatest increase in new claims were Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, the department said. The greatest decreases in filings were seen in California, Washington, D.C., and Louisiana.

Thursday's report is the first since President Joe Biden signed Congress' $1 trillion-plus bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. The bill will enact repairs to critical transportation infrastructure like roads, bridges and tunnels and is expected to create thousands of new jobs.

The department said the four-week moving average for first-time claims was 272,750, a decline of almost 6,000 from the previous week. There were 2.08 million continuing claims, which lag initial claims by a week. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
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RELATED Biden: Administration will prioritize addressing 'worrisome' consumer price increases

Next, the House is expected to vote Friday on Biden's Build Back Better Act, a large $1.75 trillion social spending package that's also partly designed to protect workers and enhance economic sectors.

Thursday, the president visited an auto manufacturing plant in Detroit, where he touted the benefits of the infrastructure package and said the auto industry's shift to electric vehicles will have deep economic benefits.

"With this infrastructure law along with my Build Back Better plan we're going to kick start new batteries, materials and parts production, and recycling, boosting the manufacturing of clean vehicles with new loans and new tax credits, creating new purchase incentives for consumers to buy American-made, union-made clean vehicles," Biden said.

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Biden returned to Washington and is scheduled to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Obrador Lopez in the first North American leaders summit in five years.

At Thursday's trilateral meeting, the leaders are expected to discuss several economic issues, including the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement on trade.

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