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First-time U.S. jobless claims fall to 712,000, lowest since start of pandemic, report

The number of first-time U.S. jobless claims before the pandemic was roughly 225,000.

Some U.S. companies are calling back workers as the coronavirus pandemic flattens
Updated: December 3, 2020 - 10:23am

The number of first-time jobless claims for unemployed U.S. workers dropped last week to 712,000, compared to 718,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Last-week's number was the lowest since the start of the coronavirus in March but is still much higher than the roughly 225,000 figure when the pandemic began about nine months ago.

Analysts say the most-recent number is a sign that hiring is continuing, though at a slower pace, according to CNBC. 

However, one analyst suggested the drop was the result of the Thanksgiving week and that claims next week will reach at least 800,000.

“The plunge in initial claims does not refute the idea that the trend is rising; we expected a sharp fall because of the difficulty of adjusting for Thanksgiving,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “Initial claims likely will rebound strongly next week, probably rising above the 800K mark for the first time in eight weeks.”

The report is also the first since the Government Accountability Office said the Labor Department has inaccurately counted weekly jobless claims during the pandemic. However, the department did not include the related GAO-recommended disclaimer.