Unemployment Drops to a 52-year Low

FILE – A traveller wheels her baggage past a now hiring sign outside a bar and restaurant Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Sioux Falls, S.D. America’s employers slowed the pace of their hiring in November, adding 210,000 jobs, the lowest monthly gain in nearly a year. Friday, Dec. 3 report from the Labor Department also showed that the nation’s unemployment rate tumbled from 4.6% to 4.2% evidence that many more people reported that they had a job. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Unemployment claims dropped by 43,000 to 184,000 last week, the lowest since September 1969, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week ups and downs, fell below 219,000, lowest since the pandemic hit the United States hard in March 2020.

Seasonal volatility likely contributed to last week’s drop as the Labor Department adjusted the numbers to reflect job market fluctuations around the holidays, said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. Before seasonal adjustments, claims actually rose by nearly 64,000 to almost 281,000.

Still, Stanley said in a research note that “the underlying trend remains downward and should be lower than it was prior to the pandemic … The unfilled demand for workers is much larger than it was then and layoffs appear to be noticeably lower.″

Overall, just under 2 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits the week that ended Nov. 27.

– Ella Breedlove