U.S. Jobless Claims Drop More Than Expected To New Pandemic-Era Low

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After last Friday's disappointing monthly jobs report, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a bigger than expected decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 4th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 310,000, a decrease of 35,000 from the previous week's revised level of 345,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 335,000 from the 340,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims once again dropped to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

The less volatile four-week moving average also dipped to a new pandemic-era low of 339,500, a decrease of 16,750 from the previous week's revised average of 356,250.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 22,000 to 2.783 million in the week ended August 28th, hitting the lowest level since March of 2020.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also dropped to a more than one-year low of 2,840,250, a decrease of 29,000 from the previous week's revised average of 2,869,250.

"While the August jobs report showed employers may have hit the pause button on hiring amid renewed concerns about the pandemic, the claims data suggest a reluctance to lay off workers amid a record number of job openings," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Capital Economics.

Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing U.S. job growth fell well short of economic estimates in the month of August.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment rose by 235,000 jobs in August after soaring by an upwardly revised 1.053 million jobs in July.

Economists had expected employment to jump by about 750,000 jobs compared to the spike of 943,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the much weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in August from 5.4 percent in July, matching economist estimates.

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