The number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims fell to 199,000 — the lowest level since November 1969 — the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
Claims sank by more than 71,000 from the previous week, notching the eighth consecutive week of declines and falling well below pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, average weekly jobless claims hovered around 220,000.
The drop in claims, a proxy for layoffs, was preceded by small decline the week before, which was upwardly revised to 270,000. It’s a stark contrast to this time last year, when weekly unemployment claims were still hovering around 700,000.
A pandemic picture that was, up until recently, brightening, coupled with the protracted labor shortage, has cut down on layoffs that wracked the economy in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, said he thinks the trend is likely to continue.