April 22, 2021 10:00 AM, EDT

Jobless Claims Fall to Pandemic Low as Economy Accelerates

A vendor prepares cotton candy at a food stand in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Micah Green/Bloomberg News)A vendor prepares cotton candy at a food stand in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Micah Green/Bloomberg News)

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Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance unexpectedly plunged to a fresh pandemic low as the job market recovery gathers steam.

Initial claims in regular state programs decreased by 39,000 to 547,000 in the week ended April 17, Labor Department data showed April 22. Economists in a Bloomberg survey estimated 610,000 claims. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 586,000.

The job market is strengthening as employers look to fill positions that were left empty by pandemic restrictions that have now been eased. Growth should speed up even more following a nationwide goal of administering an average of 3 million vaccinations per day. The claims data follows strong manufacturing, retail sales and other indicators in recent weeks.

U.S. initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell further below 600,000 last week.

U.S. stock futures erased losses after the report and Treasury 10-year yields and the dollar fluctuated.

Continuing claims for ongoing state benefits fell 34,000 to 3.67 million in the week ended April 10. Applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed and gig workers rose slightly.

Texas and New York were among states with the largest declines, while Florida and Georgia also saw sizable decreases.

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