Filings for unemployment benefits rose last week but remained near their lowest levels since the pandemic’s onset, amid signs of a broader U.S. economic recovery.
Workers filed 719,000 initial jobless claims, on a seasonally adjusted basis, in the week ended March 27, the Labor Department said Thursday. The increase followed a downward revision to 658,000 initial claims the prior week, the lowest point since the pandemic hit in March 2020.
The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility in the numbers, fell to 719,000, also a low during the pandemic.
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, remain well above pre-pandemic levels—the weekly average in 2019 was 218,000—but have trended downward since the start of the year.
The labor market has shown other signs of gaining steam, which economists expect will be captured in the Labor Department’s March employment report, which the department will release Friday. Economists forecast that the U.S. economy added 675,000 jobs last month, compared with a gain of 379,000 in February, and that the jobless rate ticked down to 6% from 6.2%.