New jobless claims in the United States fall to lowest level since the start of the pandemic

New claims for unemployment benefits in the United States fell to 684,000 last week, the lowest number since the start of the coronavirus crisis, as the labor market continued to create jobs.

The number of jobless claims filed for regular state programs fell by 97,000 in the week ending March 20, the US Department of Labor said Thursday. It was better than economists’ expectations of a drop to 730,000 new claims.

The report also showed a drop from 42,509 claims for federal unemployment pandemic assistance – which provides benefits to on-demand workers and the self-employed – to 241,745.

Falling infections and hospitalization rates, along with the growing rollout of coronavirus vaccines – President Joe Biden has pledged sufficient doses for all adults by May – have prompted some US states to ease their restrictions further. lockdowns, while others have removed all limits on businesses.

More than 130 million doses of the vaccine have been administered to date in the United States. Congress also passed Biden’s $ 1.9 billion stimulus package to help with economic recovery. As a result, the Federal Reserve has abrupt upgraded its growth forecast for the United States for the year at 6.5 percent – the fastest expansion since 1984 and well above the 4.2 percent growth that had previously been outlined.

The Fed, which has said it will keep rates close to zero until at least 2024, also forecast the unemployment rate to fall to 4.5% by the end of 2021, compared to the December outlook. by 5%.

Despite optimism about the US recovery, the job market still has a long way to go. Nearly 19 million Americans continue to seek jobless benefits more than a year after Covid-19 began to spread widely, and the world’s largest economy is 9.5 million jobs short its pre-pandemic level.

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