Unemployment claims continue to fall, a sign of economic recovery in the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
New unemployment claims hit another pandemic low of 269,000 for the week ending in Oct. 30, falling 14,000 from the week prior, the Department of Labor announced Thursday.
The news marks five straight weeks of falling unemployment claims, a welcome sign for the country and for the Biden administration ahead of the release of October's jobs report on Friday.
"Today we learned that, for the fifth consecutive week, initial unemployment claims are down," President Joe Biden wrote in a statement. "The number of people newly filing for unemployment has now fallen to the lowest level since the pandemic started — dropping from an average of 833,000 Americans in the week before I took office to fewer than 285,000 Americans today, for a decline of nearly 70 percent."
"As COVID-19 cases and unemployment claims continue to decline — and as jobs and wages continue to rise — it is clear that America is in the midst of an historic economic recovery, unique across the world," he added. "We still have much left to do to finish that recovery and build back better, but today’s news is further evidence that we are making strong and steady progress."
In its closely watched monthly report released Wednesday, payroll services provider ADP found that October's private, nonfarm payrolls topped 571,000, beating expectations. ADP's report is often viewed in economic circles as a precursor to the monthly job reports provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The four week average of claims also fell to below 285,000, another new pandemic low.
Overall, 2.1 million Americans were collecting unemployment checks the week of Oct. 23 — down from 7.1 million a year earlier when the economy was still reeling from the coronavirus outbreak.
The job market has been rebounding since the pandemic struck the U.S. economy in the spring of 2020. In March and April of that year, employers slashed more 22 million jobs as governments ordered lockdowns and consumers and workers stayed home as a health precaution.
Government relief checks and the rollout of vaccines have given consumers the confidence and financial wherewithal to resume spending — so much so that companies have scrambled to keep up with surging demand. They complain they can’t find workers to fill their job openings — a near record 10.4 million in August — and are being forced to raise wages, offer signing bonuses and improve benefits and working conditions.
The economy has recovered 17 million of the jobs lost to the pandemic, and economists expect Friday’s jobs report to show that it regained another 400,000 in October. But the United States is still 5 million jobs short of where it stood in February 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.