U.S. Jobless Claims Dip Below 400,000 for First Time in Pandemic
“Now Hiring” signage is displayed as job seekers wait in line to enter a career fair in California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

U.S. Jobless Claims Dip Below 400,000 for First Time in Pandemic

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Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance dipped below 400,000 for the first time during the pandemic as hiring accelerates and the economy strengthens heading into the summer months.

Initial claims in regular state programs decreased by 20,000 to 385,000 in the week ended May 29, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 387,000 applications. The prior week’s reading was revised down to 405,000.

U.S. Jobless Claims Dip Below 400,000 for First Time in Pandemic

The labor market continues to gain steam as remaining pandemic restrictions are eased and more fully-vaccinated Americans look to resume travel and socializing. U.S. companies added 978,000 private payroll jobs in May, the most in nearly a year, according to a separate report by ADP Research Institute on Thursday.

The numbers come ahead of Friday’s Labor Department employment report, which is expected to show the economy added 655,00 jobs in May, according to a Bloomberg survey.

U.S. Jobless Claims Dip Below 400,000 for First Time in Pandemic

Claims data have been volatile during the pandemic amid backlogs, fraud and new programs. Also, more than 20 states have recently announced plans to pull out of federal unemployment benefit programs amid a debate about whether generous aid is making it more difficult for employers to hire.

While jobless claims remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels, Thursday’s figure is the lowest since mid-March 2020. Continuing claims for ongoing state benefits increased in the week ended May 22.

Texas, Florida and Oregon led states with the biggest drop in claims last week.

U.S. equity futures dropped Thursday and 10-year Treasury yields rose.

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