Weekly unemployment claims declined in North Dakota last week
Initial unemployment claims in North Dakota declined last week compared with the week prior, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.
New claims, which are considered a proxy for layoffs, dropped to 667 in the week ending May 15, down from 670 the week before, the labor department said.
There were 2,619 new claims in North Dakota at the same time last year.
U.S. jobless claims, meanwhile, continued their steady decline last week, dropping to their lowest level in the pandemic.
U.S. unemployment claims dropped to 444,000 last week, down 34,000 claims from 478,000 the week prior on a seasonally adjusted basis.
New claims peaked in early April last year at more than 6 million claims on a seasonally adjusted basis, and hovered between 700,000-900,000 for much of last year. Since February, claims have steadily declined as the pace of vaccinations has increased and consumers received stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits.
While jobless claims are still elevated compared with pre-pandemic levels and employers added a disappointing 266,000 jobs in April, Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Bank, said the steady decline in weekly unemployment claims along with other unemployment insurance data suggests the labor market is improving.
Faucher noted the concern over the extra unemployment insurance benefits of $300 per week, which several Republican-led states plan to end early because they say it's causing workers to turn down jobs.
"With many states dropping these benefits, citing the improved job market, that theory will be put to the test over the next couple of months," Faucher said. He said other reasons people may not be taking jobs include concerns about contracting COVID-19 on the job and child care issues due to virtual learning.
Minnesota saw the largest percentage increase in weekly claims, with claims jumping by 45.8%.Kentucky, meanwhile, saw the largest percentage drop in new claims, with claims dropping by 64.3%.