Workers are slowly pulling away from unemployment assistance as a U.S. economic revival picks up speed, with initial filings for benefits holding near pandemic lows and the number of people receiving help dropping.
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased by a seasonally adjusted 16,000 last week to 744,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, which smooths out volatility in the figures, rose slightly to 723,750 from 721,250. Claims are still well above the weekly average of around 220,000 in the year before Covid-19’s arrival.
The continued high rate of filings comes amid other signs of recent labor-market improvement. U.S. employers added 916,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate slipped to 6.0%, from 6.2% in the prior month.
Real-time data on job openings indicate a surge in labor demand. Postings on Indeed, a job-search site, are now 16% above where they were in February 2020. The pace of growth in job postings has accelerated in recent weeks and is now higher than during the summer of 2020 hiring rebound.
Demand for workers in sectors that thrived during the pandemic is well above precrisis levels. Job postings on Indeed for manufacturing, loading and stocking positions are now up more than 50% from February 2020, just before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic.