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The number of Americans filing for unemployment resumed its downward trend, falling to 360,000

  • Initial unemployment claims fell to 360,000, matching economists’ expectations.
  • This resumes an overall downward trend after an unexpected uptick last week.
  • Continuing claims, which measures the number of Americans receiving benefits, fell to 3.24 million.
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Initial unemployment claims came in at 360,000 for the week ending July 10, below the previous week’s revised read of 386,000. That reading matched the consensus forecast among economists, according to Bloomberg

The decline in the seasonally adjusted number resumes the overall downward trend of the volatile data series after an unexpected rise in initial claims last week. The Labor Department noted that this marks a new pandemic-era low.

While the number of Americans newly filing for unemployment benefits tends to bounce around from week to week, it’s been on a general downward trend after spiking to record-shattering numbers amid the early days of the pandemic last spring. The return to that downward trend matches other data suggesting a steadily recovering labor market.

Continuing claims, which measures how many Americans are currently receiving normal state unemployment benefits, fell to 3.24 million. The median estimate according to Bloomberg was for a decline to 3.313 million.

The weekly jobless claims numbers come amid several data points suggesting an overall strengthening labor market, albeit one with a long way to go to fully recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The June jobs report smashed expectations, adding 850,000 jobs to the US economy over the month.

There are plenty of signs that workers are more confident in their abilities to find a better job. In May, the most recent month for which data is available, the number of job openings hit a new record high of 9.21 million, nearly matching the number of unemployed workers that month.

May also saw 3.6 million Americans quit their jobs, which followed a record high of about 4 million in April. This is generally a good sign for the economy because it signals that people are optimistic about their abilities to cover their bills or find a new job.

Several states have begun to unwind the federal supplemental unemployment insurance programs passed over the last year to address the economic fallout from the pandemic, with governors arguing that the benefits are discouraging unemployed workers from seeking new jobs.

While jobless claims are far below their pandemic-era highs during which millions of Americans applied for benefits each week, they remain above their pre-crisis trend of around 200,000 per week, suggesting that there’s still plenty of room for the labor market to improve.

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