WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 13,000 last week to 553,000, the lowest level since the pandemic hit last March and another sign the economy is recovering from the coronavirus recession.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims were down from 566,000 a week earlier. They have fallen sharply over the past year but remain well above the 230,000 weekly figure typical before the pandemic struck the economy in March 2020.
The U.S. economy grew at a brisk 6.4% annual rate last quarter - a show of strength fueled by government aid and declining viral cases that could drive further gains as the nation rebounds with unusual speed from the pandemic recession. Thursday’s report from the Commerce Department estimated that the nation’s gross domestic product - its total output of goods and services - accelerated in the January-March quarter from a 4.3% annual gain in the final quarter of 2020.
Growth in the current April-June period is expected to be faster still, potentially reaching a 10% annual pace or more, powered by an increase in people willing and able to travel, shop, dine out and otherwise resume their spending habits.