First-Time Claims Drop as Unemployment Remains at Pre-Pandemic Levels

The job market has been one of the bright spots for the U.S. economy for months now, as it was last week.

Fewer American workers filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ending Aug. 20, according to statistics released by the Labor Department Thursday.

Initial applications for jobless aid for the week fell by 2,000 to 243,000. The four-week average for claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week volatility, rose by 1,500 to 247,000.

And the number of Americans collecting traditional unemployment benefits fell by 19,000 – to 1.42 million — during the week that ended Aug. 13.

The news comes a couple of weeks after the Labor Department announced U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs in July, more than double what forecasters had expected. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%, marking a 50-year low reached just before the coronavirus pandemic slammed the U.S. economy in early 2020.