WASHINGTON, D.C. — A total of 199,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment insurance assistance for the week that ended Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Wednesday. The claims were much lower than the revised 270,000 from the previous week, as well as lower than the 260,000 expected. Additionally, this week’s unemployment figure is the lowest level in 52 years, since November 1969.
From the week that ended on Nov. 20 to the previous week, workers filing for initial unemployment benefits declined by 71,000. The four-week moving average hit a new pandemic-era low as well at 252,250 claims, a decrease of 21,000 from the previous week’s revised average.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the decline of Delta variant cases, as well as a surge of job openings, has contributed to the lower unemployment numbers. There were 52 percent more job postings on Indeed.com, an online job-search engine, than there were before the pandemic in February 2020.
The sudden decrease in unemployment claims may be due to the upcoming holiday season and the way seasonal adjustment is calculated. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, initial claims for the past four weeks were up by 18,000 to 259,000. There were big increases in Virginia (with an increase in 17,700), Illinois (4,600) and Michigan (2,200). The biggest declines took place in California with 6,600 fewer claims and Kentucky with 3,900 fewer claims.