A sign seeking job applicants is seen at Angelico Pizzeria in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on October 14. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 24 (UPI) -- New unemployment filings in the United States have now reached a level not seen since before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Labor Department said in its weekly report on Wednesday.
In fact, the number of new claims has fallen to a level not seen in more than a half-century.
The report says there were 199,000 new filings last week -- a weekly decrease of more than 70,000. It's the fewest new claims since 1969.
The final week before the U.S. economy was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, in the middle of March 2020, saw 256,000 filings. For weeks, the weekly total slowly approached the prepandemic level before finally falling off a cliff with Wednesday's report.
Seasonal adjustments made around the Thanksgiving holiday contributed greatly to the decline in new claims, the department said.
"The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 88,572 from the previous week," the Labor Department said in a statement.
Without the adjustments, new claims actually rise over the previous week to nearly 259,000.
Most analysts expected Wednesday's report to show around 260,000 new unemployment claims.
President Joe Biden
speaks with employees at DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he said the unemployment report shows that the job market has greatly rebounded from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI
President Joe Biden hailed the report, which was released by the department a day earlier than usual due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
"Last year, there were 21 million unemployment insurance claims before the Thanksgiving holiday," Biden said in a statement. "Today, there were 2.4 million.
"This is a historic jobs recovery: 5.6 million jobs created since I took office and an unemployment rate of 4.6% -- two full years earlier than experts predicted was possible."
Biden cited his American Rescue Plan, which was passed by Congress in March, and rising vaccinations as key factors in the decline in jobless filings. He also noted Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development figures that show the U.S. economy grew at a faster rate in the first three quarters of 2021 than at any other time over the past four decades.
"In fact, according to the OECD, the U.S. is the only major economy that has exceeded its prepandemic level of gross domestic product," Biden added.
"We have more work to do before our economy is back to normal, including addressing prices increases that hurt Americans'pocketbooks and undermine gains in wages and disposable income."
Wednesday's report said California, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts saw the largest increases in new filings -- while Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio saw the largest decreases.