First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits showed a significant pullback in the week ended December 19th, the Labor Department revealed in a report released on Wednesday.
The report said initial jobless claims slid to 803,000, a decrease of 89,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 892,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged compared to the 885,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The unexpected pullback came after jobless claims reached their highest level since early September in the previous week.
“Initial jobless claims for regular state benefits were lower than expected last week, although combined claims for regular and [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] benefits remain high at 1.3 million,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
She added, “While an easing of the pandemic is in view as the coronavirus vaccine comes online, the health situation is likely to remain dire for a few more months at least, weighing on the labor market and the economy more broadly.”
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average inched up to 818,250, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 814,250.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell by 170,000 to 5.337 million in the week ended December 12th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims dropped to 5,538,000, a decrease of 188,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 5,726,000.
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