Some 719,000 Americans filed for jobless claims last week, according to Labor Department data on Thursday that showed weekly filings back above the 700,000 level that economists say demonstrates the job market's struggle to turn the corner with the coronavirus pandemic
WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 01st April, 2021) Some 719,000 Americans filed for jobless claims last week, according to Labor Department data on Thursday that showed weekly filings back above the 700,000 level that economists say demonstrates the job market's struggle to turn the corner with the coronavirus pandemic.
"In the week ending March 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 719,000, an increase of 61,000 from the previous week's revised level," the department said in a news release.
In the previous week to March 20, filings for jobless benefits fell to 684,000, the lowest number since the COVID-19 breakout a year ago.
Economists polled by US media had forecast 675,000 filings for last week to continue with the narrative of an improving labor market.
"The policymakers at the Fed are likely still concerned about the high levels for the initial claims," Greg Michalowski, economist at ForexLive said, referring to the Federal Reserve. "The pre-pandemic levels were around 250,000 to 280,000."
Some economists, however, pointed to the persistent drop in continuing jobless weekly claims as a sign of labor market progress. Continuing weekly claims � reported with a one-week lag � slid to 3.79 million for the week ended March 27, from 3.84 million during the week to March 20.
The weekly reading for annual unemployment was unchanged at 2.7 percent, though policymakers tend to look at the monthly unemployment rate as a better gauge of the overall jobs picture. The last monthly unemployment rate published by the Labor Department was 6.2 percent for February. The department will issue the March jobs report on Friday.
A year into the COVID-19 crisis, restoring jobs growth remains one of the biggest challenges of US policymakers.
The United States lost more than 21 million jobs between March and April, at the height of business lockdowns forced by the coronavirus. About 10 million of those jobs may have not returned, data shows.
The US economy itself shrank 3.5 percent in 2020, after a 2.2 percent growth in 2019.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last month the US central bank will likely keep rates at near-zero for the next two years until the annual employment rate fell to 4.0 percent or lower, denoting "maximum employment."