May 06, 2021 at 02:26PM

New jobless claims for the week ending May 1 came in at 498,000, the lowest level since the pandemic took hold in March 2020, according to the weekly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Thursday (May 6). The previous week’s level was revised up by 37,000 from 553,000 to 590,000.

New filings for unemployment benefits dropped 92,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This fresh pandemic low is the lowest level of new claims since March 14, 2020, when new filings were 256,000. Since then, new unemployment filings escalated each week as the COVID-19 pandemic spread nationwide and state governments mandated lockdowns and restrictions. The pandemic peak was a record 6.867 million during the final full week of March 2020.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) anticipated that new jobless claims would come in at 527,000

The Labor Department’s April employment report drops on Friday (May 7) and economists are forecasting that 1 million jobs were added last month, compared to March, when 916,000 new jobs were added. Economists are also anticipating that the jobless rate dropped slightly to 5.8 percent from 6 percent in February, according to the WSJ.

“Overall it looks like we’re seeing healing in the jobs market,” Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist for S&P Global Ratings, told the news outlet. She added that she anticipates new jobless claims to come in at 510,000.

“That’s much better than just over a year ago, but that’s still double what there was pre-crisis,” Bovino said, per WSJ. “It would be [considered] bad in a normal recession, let’s just put it that way.”

PYMNTS/Visa data last month showed the pandemic triggered new shopping habits, not just in the pivot to eCommerce and delivery, but also in the timing of when consumers they shop and how often. A PYMNTS survey indicated that 46 percent of consumers were shopping for retail items on the weekend in 2020, whereas 65 percent did so in 2019.

New Jobless Claims Continue Edging Down …

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