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The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits has reached its lowest level since the pandemic struck last year, further evidence that the U.S. economy and job market are quickly rebounding from the pandemic recession.
Thursday’s report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed jobless claims fell by 26,000 last week, to 360,000.
The weekly tally, a proxy for layoffs, has fallen more or less steadily since topping 900,000 in early January.
In Iowa, new unemployment claims increased for the third consecutive week, rising from 1,942 in the week ending July 3, to 2,127 in the week ending July 10.
It's the first time Iowa had more than 2,000 new claims since the week ending June 12.
Continuing claims decreased, though, in Iowa for the sixth consecutive week. The 18,193 continuing claims were the fewest since November 2019.
New claims fell in Linn County from 204 to 181. In Johnson County, new claims remained relatively flat, narrowly rising from 80 to 83.
Manufacturing had more than twice as many new claims in Iowa than any other industry with 634. Self-employed and independent contractors had 293 new claims, and construction had 148.
Statewide claims remained significantly lower than this time last year. In the week ending July 11, 2020, Iowa reported 10,653 new claims and 134,284 continuing claims.
The U.S. recovery from the recession is proceeding so quickly that many forecasters have predicted that the economy will expand this year by roughly 7 percent.
That would be the most robust calendar-year growth since 1984.
In response, businesses are posting job openings — a record 9.2 million in May — faster than they can fill them. The worker shortage in many industries is causing employers to raise wages and in some cases to raise prices to offset their higher labor costs.
“As life normalizes and the service sector continues to gain momentum, we expect initial jobless claims to remain in a downtrend,″ said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at the consulting firm Maria Fiorini Ramirez.