Jobless claims decline to 444,000, a new pandemic low

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Ellen Booth, 57, studies at her kitchen table to become a certified medical coder, in Coventry, R.I., Monday, May 17, 2021. When the restaurant she worked for closed last year, Booth said it gave her “the kick I needed.” She started a year-long class to learn to be a medical coder. When her unemployment benefits ran out two months ago, she started drawing on her retirement funds. Booth hopes to pass her upcoming exam and soon hit the job market. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims dropped slightly to 440,000, another pandemic low and a sign the economy is continuing to recover from the coronavirus recession.

The U.S. Labor Department released its latest figures Thursday, showing the claims decreased by 34,000 from the previous week. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has declined steadily since the year began.

Applications are likely to decrease further in the weeks ahead after governors in at least 21 states announced they would withdraw next month from unemployment programs funded by the federal government, including a weekly $300 subsidy, which businesses say are encouraging the jobless to stay at home instead of seeking work.

Unemployed Americans have been able to receive the federal benefit, which was included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion financial rescue package, on top of their state jobless aid.

Continuing claims rose by 110,000 to 3.75 million.

“For a third straight week, new jobless claims have declined, which is good news. On the other hand, continuing claims rose a bit and the total number of individuals receiving some form of benefit remains historically high at nearly 16 million as of last count,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. By comparison, one year ago we had over two million new claims. What a journey that has been.” 

Combined, the cutoff of federal jobless aid in the states that are targeting it would reduce unemployment benefits for 3.5 million people, according to Oxford Economics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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