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US unemployment claims drop to a new pandemic low at 290,000

The third consecutive drop in unemployment claims was 6,000 to 290,000. Thursday. This is the lowest number of people who have applied for benefits since March 14, 2020 when the pandemic grew. The pace of layoffs has been reflected in the decline in applications for jobless assistance, which have fallen steadily since January's peak of around 900,000.

While unemployment claims are slowly returning to normal, many other aspects of job market have not yet. The past two months have seen a slowdown in hiring, despite the fact that companies and other employers have posted an record number of jobs. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell hoped that more people would find employment in September, as schools reopened and child care restrictions were eased. Also, increased unemployment aid was ended across the country.

But that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, observers are beginning to wonder if some people who lost their jobs prior to the pandemic may have stopped looking for work permanently.

Christopher Waller, a member of Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, stated Tuesday that two million of the 22 million pandemic-related jobs may not be returning anytime soon, as retirements have increased so rapidly since COVID-19.

Thursday's Labor Department report also revealed that the number receiving jobless assistance continues to decline. The latest data shows that 3.3 million people were receiving unemployment benefits in the week ending Oct. 2. This is down from the previous week's 3.6 million.

Nearly 24 million people received unemployment assistance a year ago.

Two emergency programs that were established in March 2020 and which provided jobless assistance to people in need, ended in September. The first program provided assistance to self-employed workers and gig workers, who are traditionally not eligible for unemployment insurance. The second covered workers who were unemployed for more than six months. A further $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits was lost nationwide on Sept. 6.

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