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The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest stage since the coronavirus pandemic began, a sign the job market still is improving even as hiring has slowed in the past two months.
Unemployment claims dropped 36,000 to 293,000 last week, the second straight drop, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.
That's the smallest number of people to apply for benefits since the week of March 14, 2020, when the pandemic intensified, and the first time claims have dipped below 300,000.
Applications for jobless aid, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily since last spring as many businesses, struggling to fill jobs, have held on to their workers.
Iowa recorded 1,744 initial claims for the week as of Thursday morning. That’s a slight drop from the previous week, of only 23. Continuing claims were reported at 9,154 — also a drop from the week before, of 569 applicants.
In Linn County, listed 136 initial claims for the week, according to Iowa Workforce Development, in increase of 13.
Johnson County reported 83, an climb of 22.
The decline in layoffs nationwide comes amid an otherwise unusual job market. Hiring has slowed in the past two months, even as companies and other employers have posted a near-record number of open jobs.
In a bright spot, the unemployment rate nationwide fell to 4.8 percent from 5.2 percent, though some of that decline occurred because many of those out of work stopped searching for jobs, and were no longer counted as unemployed.