The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a new pandemic low of 267,000 last week as the job market recovers from last year’s sharp coronavirus downturn. Jobless claims fell by 4,000 last week, the Labor Department reported. The four-week average of claims, dropped by nearly 7,300 to 278,000, also a pandemic low. Applications for unemployment aid have been falling mostly steadily since topping 900,000 in early January and are gradually nearing pre-pandemic levels of around 220,000 a week. In March and April of 2020, employers slashed more than 22 million jobs as governments ordered lockdowns and consumers and workers stayed home as a health precaution. Since then, employers have added more than 18 million jobs as the rollout of vaccines and government relief programs gave consumers the confidence and financial wherewithal to resume spending.
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