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New US jobless claims again drop to 1969 levels

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Weekly US unemployment filings surged into the millions as Covid-19 broke out, but have since dropped below their level before the pandemic./AFP
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Dec 10, 2021 - 09:33 AM

WASHINGTON — New filings for US unemployment aid dropped sharply last week, bringing them to levels not seen since 1969 for the second time this year, the government said Thursday.

The Labor Department said 184,000 new seasonally adjusted claims for jobless aid were made last week, much less than expected and 43,000 less than the previous week’s level.

That brought the closely watched metric of layoffs in the world’s largest economy to a level not seen since the week of September 6, 1969, the second time in three weeks it has hit a low from that year.

Jobless claims have now dropped below their level before the Covid-19 pandemic, after spiking into the millions as businesses closed and laid off staff in March 2020, then recovering throughout much of this year as vaccines allowed normal business to resume.

“A correction next week seems likely, but the trend in claims clearly is falling rapidly, reflecting the extreme tightness of the labor market and the rebound in GDP growth now underway,” said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“It’s very risky for firms to let go staff unless they have no other choice, because re-hiring people later will be difficult and likely expensive.”

The data also showed a drop of more than 350,000 in the number of people receiving unemployment aid under all government programs, to just over 1.9 million as of the week ended November 20.

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