WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plummeted last week to the lowest level in more than half a century, another sign that the U.S. job market is rebounding rapidly from last year’s coronavirus recession.
Incredibly, unemployment claims dropped 71,000 to 199,000. This is the lowest number since mid November 1969, when it was 197,000. This drop was more than economists anticipated.
The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly ups and downs, also dropped — by 21,000 to just over 252,000, the lowest since mid-March 2020 when the pandemic slammed the economy.
The drop was largely due to seasonal adjustments made around Thanksgiving.
President Joe Biden celebrated the unemployment numbers in a statement Wednesday, saying it underscores that the nation’s recovery is continuing to progress at a historic pace.
“Last year, there were 21 million unemployment insurance claims before the Thanksgiving holiday. Today, there were 2.4 million,” wrote Biden. “This is a historic jobs recovery: 5.6 million jobs created since I took office and an unemployment rate of 4.6% — two full years earlier than experts predicted was possible.”
Biden also pointed out that the U.S. economy grew faster in the first three quarters than any other year in almost 40 years.
“In fact, according to the OECD, the U.S. is the only major economy that has exceeded its pre-pandemic level of gross domestic product,” wrote Biden.
In his statement, President Obama noted that the U.S. still needs to complete more work before the economy can return to normal. He also mentioned the need to address price rises.
Biden announced on Tuesday that he directed the Department of Energy in order to release 50,000,000 barrels of oil out of the U.S. strategic reserve in hopes of lowering gas price.
The White House is still pushing Congress to approve the Build back Better Act. It would, the White House claims, reduce American families’ costs without increasing price pressures.
“Build Back Better will cut the cost of prescription drugs, health care, child care and housing for tens of millions of middle class families and seniors – while extending critical middle class tax relief that is helping working families make ends meet,” wrote Biden in his statement.