Applications for US state unemployment insurance dropped by more than forecast to the lowest level since the start of the year, as Covid-19 cases decrease and restrictions ease.
Source: US Department of Labor
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Initial unemployment claims dropped by 18,000 to 215,000. The average estimate called for 225,000 applications in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Continuing claims for state benefits were largely unchanged at 1.48 million in the week ended Feb.19. The four-week moving average of continuing claims dropped to 1.54 million, the lowest level since 1970.
The decline in claims is in line with a strong labor market recovering from the omicron variant, which pushed some businesses to close. The trend should continue loosening Covid restrictions are likely to encourage to return to work.
The figures come before the government’s monthly employment report, which is currently expecting the US economy to add 415,000 jobs in February.
On an adjusted basis, jobless claims fell to 194,693 last week. California, Michigan and Florida were states posting declines in unadjusted claims.