In Milestone, Jobless Claims Drop Below Pre-Pandemic Record

In Milestone, Jobless Claims Drop Below Pre-Pandemic Record

684,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, far fewer than expected and, on a quick scan, the first sub-700,000 print of the pandemic era.

The market was looking for 730,000. The range, from more than three-dozen economists, was 700,000 to 790,000.

“Milestone” might be too strong, but I’ll use it anyway (figure below). At the very least, this seems encouraging. The pre-pandemic record, set decades ago, was 695,000. A year after the pandemic lockdowns, the US is finally below that red line.

The four-week moving average fell to 736,000.

This comes as market participants, economists and analysts look ahead to what’s expected to be a kind of “grand” reopening accompanied by an economic renaissance in the US. Vaccine rollout has accelerated under the Biden administration. Some, including the President, say July Fourth celebrations could be a semblance of “normal” this year.

Perhaps it’s all wishful thinking, but with stimulus in the bank (figuratively and literally), any further steps down the road to reopening the services sector are expected to be met with voracious consumption. And cabin fever likely means Americans will be predisposed to activities conducive to merriment as the weather warms. That bodes well for demand and, in turn, for hiring.

Continuing claims in the week through March 13 were 3.87 million. That too was better than consensus, which expected 4 million.

Initial Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims fell 42,509, while ongoing PUA and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims were 7,735,491 and 5,551,215, respectively, for the week of March 6.

The pandemic has seen its share of false dawns, and with new variants running around, it would be naive to express anything like overconfidence.

Still, these are “good” numbers. With an obligatory asterisk to account for the fact that “good” is always a relative term these days.


4 thoughts on “In Milestone, Jobless Claims Drop Below Pre-Pandemic Record

  1. “The pandemic has seen its share of false dawns, and with new variants running around, it would be naive to express anything like overconfidence.”

    For example –

    Michigan went from averaging 2,073 new cases a day to 3,122 in the past seven days, a 51% increase.

    Statewide, the seven-day positivity rate on coronavirus diagnostic tests has gone from 6.4% to 8.7% in the past week. The one-day rate was 11.3% for test results reported on Wednesday.

    So, it’s not only $@@@hole countries, like Germany & Brazil, seeing a resurgence.

  2. Between spring break and Easter congregating we will really know in about two or three weeks where the numbers go. By late May we could be back up to the same daily deaths as early March according to med page today worst case scenario. Current projections likely a slow down hill in daily death.
    4th of July looks iffy.
    I was going to fly to Florida late April but that’s not gonna happen and I’m not the only one that was thinking that way and has second thoughts with variants lurking.

    1. Yeah the variants are becoming an issue. The UK variant is already widespread in MN, a state that has so far done a decent job at controlling the overall covid spread. That suggests South Africa and Brazil variants are not more than a couple months behind. We’re not out of this by a long shot. If we can put away masks by winter 2022 we’ll be doing a decent job at recovering from the insane damage done by virus denial and inaction last year.

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