California, US unemployment claims drop

California workers filed fewer initial unemployment claims last week, but filings remain far above typical claims before pandemic-related shutdowns began more than 18 months ago.

Workers statewide filed 65,042 claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending Oct. 23, a decrease of 7,843 from the 72,885 claims filed the previous week, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

The number of jobless claims posted last week with California’s Employment Development Department was 45% higher than filings in February 2020.

Nationwide, jobless claims dropped by 10,000 to 281,000, the lowest since mid-March 2020. Since topping 900,000 in early January, weekly applications have steadily dropped, moving ever closer to pre-pandemic levels just above 200,000.

The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week gyrations, fell by nearly 21,000 to 299,250, also a pandemic low.

In all, 2.2 million people were collecting unemployment checks the week of Oct. 16, down from 7.7 million a year earlier.

Jobless claims “continue to trend lower, gradually moving closer to levels prevailing prior to the recession,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research report. “Businesses are holding on to workers amid reports of severe labor shortages.″

Many Americans have retired. Others are still wary of the health outlook or struggling with daycare issues. Still others are rethinking their lives and careers after spending months locked down at home.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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