Initial jobless claims in the week ending March 20 fell to their lowest level since the start of the pandemic, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by the US Department of Labor.
The number of jobless claims fell by 97,000 to a total of 684,000. They had totaled 781,000 in the previous week, which included an upward revision of 11,000.
CNBC noted that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected claims to total 735,000 and the lower-than-expected number points to the labor market gaining traction. Total claims were also below their pre-pandemic record of 695,000 set in October 1982.
Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of claims last week fell by 13,000 to a total of 736,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 2,750.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims, which are not seasonally adjusted, fell by 42,509 to a total of 241,745. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program claims include self-employed workers, among others.