The number of people filing initial unemployment claims fell last week, showing an improving but still troubled economy.
There were 712,000 people who filed initial benefit claims for the week ending Nov. 28, marking a 75,000-person drop from the prior week’s upwardly revised figure, data from the Labor Department showed Thursday. The four-week moving average for initial claims fell by 11,250 to 739,500.
The figure is far better than the highs seen in March, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the economy and nearly seven million people filed claims in one week. Still, initial claims have consistently been above pre-pandemic record levels for the last nine months. At this time last year, 206,000 people filed initial claims.
was marginally higher following the news.
Continuing claims, a figure that lags behind the initial-claims data by one week and accounts for people who have sought benefits for at least two weeks, also fell. There were 5.5 million people filing continuing claims for the week ending Nov. 21, down 569,000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised level of 6.1 million.
Labor Department data also showed improving trends in the number of people receiving money under all unemployment benefit programs, including those meant to support for gig workers and others who were hurt by the pandemic but not typically eligible. All told, 20.1 million people were receiving benefits under all programs for the week ended Nov. 14, marking a 349,633 drop from the prior week.
That said, the figures remain stubbornly high. In the year-ago period, there were 1.5 million people receiving unemployment benefits under various programs.
Thursday’s reading comes just days after a report from the Government Accountability Office said that the Labor Department’s claims figures have been inaccurate during the pandemic. The inaccuracies were due in part to states having to work through backlogs of claims, as well as fraud.
On Friday the Labor Department will report nonfarm payrolls for November. It is expected that 440,000 jobs were added to the economy last month and that unemployment fell to 6.7% from 6.9% in October.
Write to Carleton English at [email protected]