The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits for the first time rose last week but still fell below economists’ expectations, the Labor Department said Thursday.
First-time filings for the week ending Nov. 27 totaled 222,000, much less than the 240,000 that economists forecasted. Still, the number of initial claims exceeded the 194,000 reported in the previous week.
Continuing unemployment claims fell by 107,000 and are now below 2 million for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Labor Department said.
The last time the number of continuing unemployment claims were lower than the 1.96 million reported Thursday was March 2020.
The report is the latest sign of an increasingly competitive labor market, with workers moving to new jobs at the highest levels in decades and employers hiring at a fast pace.
President Biden hailed the numbers as evidence that America’s economic recovery is moving at a brisk pace.
“America’s jobs recovery is strong, and our COVID strategy is allowing millions of workers to find and keep jobs,” he said in a statement.
The Labor Department’s data comes one day ahead of its jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Economists expect the numbers released Friday will show a gain of 573,000 new jobs, following an additional 531,00 jobs in October. The unemployment rate is also expected to drop to 4.5%.