Unemployment claims fall to new pandemic low of 360,000

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The Labor Department has issued a new report

In a report released Thursday, the Department of Labor said that new applications for unemployment benefits fell to a new pandemic low last week. 

“In the week ending July 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 360,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week's revised level,” the Labor Department said. “This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000.” 

The numbers add to mounting evidence that the economy and job market are bouncing back from their pandemic depths. However, companies are still struggling to fill open positions. 

“Businesses are still having trouble finding people,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday in testimony to Congress.

Some businesses have suggested that federal unemployment benefits are the reason unemployed people aren’t filling open positions. Twenty-six states have stopped distributing extra benefits in an effort to spur hiring. Federal benefits are set to expire in all states in September.

There are other factors keeping hiring down, including lingering health concerns and childcare responsibilities. Many Americans are still hesitant to work around large numbers of people, and others have stopped looking for work because they’re still caring for their children in the wake of the shutdown of schools and day care centers. 

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