US jobless claims fall more than forecast to pandemic low

US jobless claims fall more than forecast to pandemic low
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(May 6): Applications for US state unemployment insurance fell last week to a fresh pandemic low as labour market conditions continue to improve and the economy reopens.

Initial claims in regular state programmes fell by 92,000 to 498,000 in the week ended May 1, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 538,000 claims. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 590,000.

The job market is strengthening as employers look to fill positions left empty by the pandemic. Friday’s employment report is expected to show that the US added about one million jobs in April, a sign that fewer business restrictions are bringing more Americans back to work.

Claims fell broadly across the US, with the biggest drops in Virginia and New York.

Continuing claims for ongoing state benefits rose slightly in the week ended April 24. Applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed and gig workers also decreased.

Separate data Thursday showed productivity rebounded in the first quarter as the pace of output exceeded a pickup in hours worked.

Nonfarm business labour productivity increased at a 5.4% annualized rate in the first quarter, the second fastest pace since 2009, after a revised 3.8% decline in the prior quarter.

The gain in productivity helped restrain unit labour costs, which fell an annualized 0.3%.