Some 712,000 people in the U.S. filed for unemployment benefits last week, declining to a four-month low, indicating fewer job cuts by companies, as confirmed COVID-19 cases fall and the economy begins showing signs of improvement.
The Labor Department recorded that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits on Thursday declined by 42,000, as compared to 754,000 recorded in the earlier week. Despite gradual improvements in the labor market, businesses continue to reel from the impacts of the pandemic, and 9.6 million job losses have resulted from the COVID-19 that decimated the economy one year ago.
The creation of 379,000 new jobs in February in the U.S. is the highest rise since October, signaling a strengthening economy where consumer spending rose, and business restrictions were relaxed across states and cities. Despite the U.S. weekly jobless claims on Thursday being at a four-month low, the level stayed high relative to historical standards, with the pre-COVID-19 figures not having crossed 700,000, even when the country suffered from the Great Recession.
The number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits totaled 4.1 million. Some 20.1 million individuals in the U.S. are receiving supplemental benefits offered through several federal unemployment programs initiated to lower the economic disruption caused by the virus.
The wave of job cuts signals the magnitude of economic disruption caused by COVID-19, that forced consumers to remain homebound, instead of heading out to shop, eat, travel, or visit entertainment locations. City- and state-wise restrictions were imposed on the operating timings, and a cap was placed on the number of people allowed at a restaurant, bar, and other businesses. Many Americans opted to not venture outdoors, even to places where restrictions were not enforced, in a bid to avoid contracting the virus.