Initial jobless claims fell again last week in the latest sign that the economic recovery is strengthening.
About 575,000 people filed first-time claims for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, a decrease of 9,000 from the previous week’s revised figure.
In addition, 122,000 new claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program that covers freelancers, part-timers and others who do not routinely qualify for state benefits.
Neither figure is seasonally adjusted.
“We’re not quite at a full reopening yet,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist with the career site Glassdoor. “But the light is there at the end of the tunnel.”
Although weekly jobless claims remain above levels reached before the pandemic, vaccinations and warmer weather are offering new hope.
“The labor market is definitely moving in the right direction,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the online job site Indeed. Still, she cautioned that industries like tourism and hospitality would probably remain depressed until the pandemic was firmly under control. She also stressed that child care obligations might be preventing people ready to return to work from seeking jobs.
“We still are in a pandemic — the vaccinations are ramping up but there is that public health factor still,” Ms. Konkel said. “We’re not quite there yet.”