Initial claims for regular state unemployment insurance totaled 712,000 for the week ending March 6, down 42,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised tally of 754,000 (see first chart). The latest week is the lowest since results for the week ending November 7, 2020. However, claims remain stuck in the 700,000 to 900,000 range and well above the pre-pandemic level of 212,000 in early 2020 (see first chart).
The four-week average fell 34,000 to 759,000, the fifth weekly decline in a row and the lowest level since November 28, 2020. However, the four-week average also remains stuck in the 700,000 to 900,000 range. The combination of vaccine distribution and easing government restrictions on consumers and businesses is likely to lead to lower claims in the coming weeks and months as the economy returns to normal operation. However, significant damage has been done by the lockdowns and full recovery is likely several quarters away. Read more…