A year later, when they first stoned upward, unemployed claims could finally return to Earth.
More than 714,000 people State filed for unemployment benefits Last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. This was up slightly from the first week, but nonetheless one of the lowest weekly totals started the epidemic.
In addition, 237,000 people filed for pandemic unemployment assistance, a federal program that covers people who are not eligible for state benefit programs. That number is also decreasing.
Unemployed claims exceeded historical standards, and are far above the norm before the epidemic, when about 200,000 people filed for benefits in a week. Applications have only slowly improved – even after the recent decline, the weekly figure is down marginally to where it was the last decline. Altogether some 18 million people are receiving unemployed assistance, many of them through programs that provide more than 26 weeks of benefits offered in most states.
But economists are optimistic that this has improved further as the vaccine rollout picks up, with more states removing restrictions on commercial activity. Fewer companies are laying off workers, and hiring has been lifted, meaning those who lose their jobs are more likely to find new ones quickly.
“We can actually see the number of unemployed claims decreasing because there is enough job creation to compensate for the layoffs,” said Julia Pollack, a labor economist at the job site Ziprequietriet.
There are other signs that the economic recovery is gaining momentum. The Institute of Supply Management said on Thursday that its Manufacturing index, A closely watched measure of the industrial economy, reached its highest level since March 1983. The report’s employment index has also increased strongly, an indication that manufacturers are likely to be hired to meet growing demand.
Economists will get a picture of the job market more fully, in less time, on Friday, when the Labor Department releases data on recruitment and unemployment in March. Forecasts polled by FactSet are expected to report that US employers have added more than 600,000 jobs in the past month, the highest since October.
An even better number may lie ahead. Data were collected in most states before broadening the vaccine’s reach and in March, before most Americans began receiving $ 1,400 checks from the federal government as part of the newly passed relief package. Wells Fargo chief economist Jay Bryson said those forces should work even faster in April.
“If you don’t get Barnburn in March, I think you’re probably going to have one in April,” he said.
The greatest risk to the economy is the same as for the previous year: coronovirus. Virus cases are rising again States have begun to relax restrictions in most parts of the country. If it is moving upward then turns into an entirely new wave of infection, it may force some states to reverse course, which can act as a break on recovery, Mr. Bryson Warned
But some economists expect a recurrence of the previous winter, when a surge in the Kovid-19 cases reversed the recovery. More than a quarter of American adults have received At least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, And more than two million people are being vaccinated a day. That economic activity should allow the rebound to continue.
Nevertheless, Ms. Pollack warned that the job market would not be normal overnight. Even as many companies resume normal operations, others find that the epidemic has permanently disrupted their business model.
“There’s still a lot of business closed and a lot of layoffs that haven’t happened yet,” she said. “The consequences of this epidemic are still ripening through this economy.”