“In the week ending February 27, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 745,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level,” the department said in a news release.
The number was slightly smaller than the 750,000 filings forecast for last week by economists surveyed by US media. Yet, one year into the COVID-19 crisis, the data shows that fixing the job market remains a herculean challenge.
“The claims number is still well above pre-pandemic levels,” Greg Michalowski said in a post on ForexLive, citing the 281,000 filings from the week ended March 15, 2020, before the numbers exploded with the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Labor Department said that continuing weekly claims — reported with a one-week lag but sometimes considered a better gauge of the labor market — slid to 4.29 million for the week ended February 27, from a previous 4.42 million. The unemployment rate also dipped slightly, by 0.1 percentage point, to 3.0 percent.
The US economy itself shrank 3.5 percent in 2020, after a 2.2 percent growth in 2019.
The Labor Department’s full employment statistics for February will be published on Friday. Economists are expecting a jobs growth of 182,000 last month after January’s expansion of 49,000.