First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to a new pandemic-era low in the week ended April 24th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 553,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 566,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 549,000 from the 547,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Jobless claims fell for the third straight week, once again sliding to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

“Claims, which are down 189,000 since the start of April, are on a clear downward path,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Oxford Economics. “However, a broad and inclusive recovery in the labor market will be a gradual process.

She added, “The Fed will wait for that recovery to unfold, leaving rates unchanged until 2023 and keeping QE tapering off the table until next year.”

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also fell to a more than one-year low of 611,750, a decrease of 44,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 655,750

Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, inched up by 9,000 to 3.660 million in the week ended April 17th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims still dropped to 3,684,000, a decrease of 23,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 3,707,250.

With the decrease, the four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to its lowest level since hitting 3,611,750 in the week ended March 28, 2020.

Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on the employment situation in the month of April.

The material has been provided by InstaForex Company – www.instaforex.com

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