Jobless claims total 340,000, the lowest level since March 2020

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Signage at a Job News USA career fair in Louisville, Kentucky, June 23, 2021.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Initial filings for unemployment insurance fell last week to their lowest levels since March 2020 in another sign that the labor market is gradually improving from the Covid-19 era, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

First-time jobless claims totaled 340,000 for the week ended August 28, compared with the 345,000 Dow Jones estimate. That is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when first-time claims totaled 256,000, just before the coronavirus pandemic caused a historic spike in claims.

The previous week’s level of initial claims was revised up by 1,000 from 353,000 to 354,000.

The level of continuing claims, the measure of ongoing benefits, was 2.75 million, a decrease of 160,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The decrease in the number of continuing claims also represents the lowest level for insured unemployment since the Covid era began in March 2020.

The jobless claims data comes one day ahead of the Labor Department’s all-important monthly jobs report, a detailed update that Wall Street uses as a gauge on the broader U.S. labor market.

That report will show how the U.S. labor market fared in August. Economists expect that U.S. employers added 720,000 payrolls last month and that the unemployment rate ticked lower to 5.2% from 5.4%.

Economists looking for even more robust job creation have noted that federal unemployment benefits, a safety net for those who lost jobs during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, are set to expire on Sept. 6.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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