The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits reached a new pandemic low last week, demonstrating the job market's continued recovery.
Some 360,000 people applied for regular jobless aid in the week ended July 10, according to the Labor Department. That's down 26,000 from the previous week and the lowest level of claims since March 14, 2020.
Another 96,000 people applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the federal program for the self-employed. The number of first-time jobless applicants, a proxy for layoffs, has fallen steadily since January, when it approached 1 million a week.
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has sharply reduced new cases, despite a recent uptick, and made cooped up Americans eager to leave their homes and spend on things they had missed during lockdowns — dinners out, a round of drinks, sports and entertainment events, vacation getaways, or shopping trips.
The economy has rebounded so fast that many employers say they're struggling to hire workers, and are raising pay andin a bit to attract employees. Many Republicans have blamed overly generous jobless benefits for the worker crunch, and 26 states are in a push to force more workers into the job market.
A Morning Consult poll this week indicated that child care responsibilities were the biggest reason some unemployed workers turned down jobs, but jobless benefits also played a role.
As of the last week of June, some 13.8 million people were receiving some type of jobless aid, according to the Labor Department.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.