(AP) — The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits
fell last week, indicating that layoffs
are decreasing and the job market is improving.
The Labor Department
reported on Thursday that jobless claims
fell by 7,000 from the previous week to 411,000, as the number of weekly applications for unemployment benefits has steadily declined this year, from around 900,000 in January. The level of unemployment claims generally reflects the rate of layoffs.
As the pandemic
and cities are loosening more business
restrictions — California
just reopened fully on June 15 — and the economy
is picking up as consumers travel
more, eat out more, and visit movie theaters and amusement parks. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
, growth could top 10% on an annual basis in the April-June quarter.
With many employers desperate to hire, some states are beginning to phase out several pandemic-related unemployment aid programs in response to business complaints that the assistance is making it difficult for them to find workers. Beginning this month, 26 states will discontinue an additional $300 weekly federal unemployment payment, and 22 of those states will also discontinue all jobless assistance to self-employed, g
Bank of America economists estimate that those earning less than $32,000 per year in their previous jobs
will be able to receive more in jobless aid with the extra $300, while federal expansions of unemployment benefits have allowed millions of self-employed and contract workers who were previously ineligible for assistance to receive it for the first time.
Last week, four states — Alaska
, Iowa, Mississippi
, and Missouri
— ceased providing the $300 payment, and all but Alaska also terminated the two programs that covered the self-employed and long-term unemployed.