April 08, 2021 at 02:23PM

The number of people in the U.S. filing for first-time unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose a bit in the week ending April 3, but the numbers are still on the low side of the pandemic peak, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday (April 8).

The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 744,000, up 16,000 from the previous week’s level of 728,000, which was revised upward by 9,000.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 27 was 3.734 million, down 16,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since March 21, 2020, when it was 3.094 million.

Overall, jobless claims “have been improving lately, with a downward trend reported since early in January that generally has coincided with vaccine distribution and a reduction in new COVID-19 cases,” JPMorgan economist Bruce Kasman wrote in a note, per Yahoo Finance. “Initial claims did jump in the latest weekly report, but the four-week moving average for regular state filings hit its lowest level in over a year.”

During the week ending March 20, 50 states reported 7,553,628 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 5,633,595 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 20 were in Puerto Rico (6.0), the Virgin Islands (5.6), Nevada (5.3), Alaska (5.0), Pennsylvania (5.0), Connecticut (4.6), New York (4.1), Rhode Island (3.9), Illinois (3.8) and California (3.7). 

“As more and more of the service sector comes online, I think we will see substantial declines in the number of claims,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, told The New York Times.

At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, jobless claims hit an all-time record of 6.867 million during the final full week of March 2020. This latest report is the eighth consecutive new jobless claims below 800,000.

New Jobless Claims Surprisingly Inch Up A Bit …

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