US weekly jobless claims dip to new pandemic-era low of 553,000 as recovery pushes forward

  • US initial jobless claims dipped to 553,000 last week, marking a third straight decline.
  • The median estimate from economists was for a drop to 540,000 claims.
  • Continuing claims climbed to 3.66 million for the week that ended on April 17.
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The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell for a third consecutive week as the labor market’s recovery charged forward.

New jobless claims totaled an unadjusted 553,000 last week, according to the Labor Department. The median estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for 540,000 claims. The previous week’s reading was revised to 566,000 from 547,000.

Continuing claims, which track Americans currently receiving unemployment benefits, rose to 3.66 million for the week that ended on April 17, the Labor Department said. That’s above the median estimate of 3.59 million claims.


Claims have steadily trended below 600,000 as vaccination continues and the economy slowly reopens. That stands in contrast with the trend seen just one month ago, when claims counts struggled to stay below 700,000.

To be sure, the weekly totals are still roughly twice as large as those seen before the pandemic. The pandemic recession has seen nearly 86 million claims filed, dwarfing the 37 million filings made during the 18-month Great Recession.

While usually the biggest data release on Thursdays, the weekly claims report was overshadowed by the government’s first estimate of first-quarter economic output. US gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 6.4% in the quarter that ended in March, the Commerce Department said Thursday morning.

The median estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a TK% gain. The reading marks the second-strongest rate of growth since 2003, surpassed only by the record-breaking expansion seen in the third quarter of last year.

The quarter’s strong growth was fueled in part by the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, and the president is already teeing up his next set of spending packages. President Joe Biden rolled out the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan on Wednesday, pitching the measure as a key buttress for care and education across the country. The proposal includes funds for universal pre-K, paid family and medical leave, and childcare support.

When coupled with the administration’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, Biden is embarking on arguably the most ambitious spending initiative since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The packages stand to create “millions of jobs” as the economy reopens, Biden said in a March 31 speech. 

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