The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nearly 18 months, offering more evidence that job growth was being hindered by labor shortages rather than cooling demand for workers.
unemployment benefits dropped 35,000 to a seasonally adjusted 310,000 for the week ended Sept. 4, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
That was the lowest level since mid-March 2020 when mandatory closures of nonessential businesses were enforced to slow the first wave of COVID-19 cases.
Claims have dropped from a record 6.149 million in early April 2020. They, however, remain above the 200,000-250,000 range viewed as consistent with healthy labor market conditions.
The claims report, the most timely data on the economy’s health, suggested the labor market was holding up, despite a resurgence in infections, driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Rising infections contributed holding back job growth in August, with nonfarm payrolls increasing only 235,000, the smallest gain since January. Payrolls surged 1.053 million in July.
Government data on Wednesday showed job openings surged to a record 10.9 million at the end of July.