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US Weekly Jobless Benefit Claims Drop to New Pandemic Low

New claims for jobless benefits in the U.S. dropped to a new pandemic low, the Labor Department reported Thursday, as the world’s biggest economy continues its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 269,000 out-of-work employees filed for unemployment compensation for the week ending October 30, down 14,000 from the week before, the agency said. The figure was the lowest total since mid-March 2020 when the pandemic first struck the U.S. economy, although still higher than the pre-coronavirus weekly average of 218,000 in 2019.

Since exceeding 900,000 in early January, weekly applications have generally declined as the job market recovers. During the last week of October, 2.1 million people in the U.S. received unemployment compensation, far lower than the 7.1 million in 2020 when the economy was suffering the worst effects of the pandemic.

In March and April of 2020, employers cut more 22 million jobs amid government-ordered lockdowns and consumers and employees staying home to avoid infection. Some 17 million of those jobs have returned. 

Government financial relief and vaccine rollouts led to more consumer spending and business re-openings, forcing companies to struggle to meet demand by re-hiring workers, particularly for low-wage jobs. 

The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal government contractors and business with at least 100 employees could exacerbate worker shortages.

The unemployment report for October is due to be released on Friday.

Some information in this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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