US jobless claims slide to 400,000 as recovery trudges forward slower than expected

Unemployment line
People line up outside a newly reopened career center for in-person appointments in Louisville, U.S., April 15, 2021. Amira Karaoud/Reuters
  • Jobless claims fell to 400,000 last week, signaling the labor market’s recovery is back on track after an upward spike the week before.
  • The reading missed the median economist forecast of 385,000 claims.
  • Continuing claims jumped to 3.27 million for the week that ended July 17, also missing the estimate of 3.19 million.
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Filings for unemployment insurance fell last week, signaling the labor market’s recovery is back on track after an unexpected increase the week prior.

Jobless claims slid to 400,000 last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday. The median estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a decline to 385,000 claims.

The previous week’s count was revised to 424,000 from 419,000. The initial reading was the highest since mid-May and landed well above forecasts.

Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, jumped to 3.27 million for the week that ended July 17. That compares to a median estimate of 3.19 million claims.


Initial claims sit near pandemic-era lows as vaccine distribution and the reopening of the US economy drives more people to job openings. Still, the labor market is far from fully healed. Nearly 10 million Americans remained unemployed by the end of June. Weekly claims counts are roughly twice their pre-pandemic levels. And the unusual labor shortage has somewhat hindered the recovery’s pace.

Unemployment insurance – and the federal government’s $US300 ($AU407) weekly supplement – has been blamed by some for exacerbating the worker shortage. Twenty-six states have announced plans to cancel the boost ahead of its September expiration, with governors saying the move should drive more people into the workforce. But while a handful of states have already started to roll back the extra payment, claims haven’t considerably declined.

In other economic data news, the government’s first estimate of second-quarter output saw gross domestic product growing at an annualized rate of 6.5%. That fell well short of the median estimate of 8.5% expansion, but still placed GDP high enough to mark a full recovery from the pandemic-era decline.