The number of applications has fallen steadily since January when they hit 900,000. Unemployment claims are a good indicator of layoffs.
2 million Americans were collecting unemployment checks last week, down from the previous week.
The federal government paid an extra $300 a week and extended unemployment benefits to gig workers and people who were out of work for six months or more. In June 2020, the number of Americans receiving some form of unemployment aid peaked at more than 33 million.
The job market has rebounded remarkably since the spring of 2020 when the coronaviruses caused businesses to close or cut hours and kept many Americans at home. Employers slashed more than 22 million jobs in March and April of last year.
Government relief checks, low interest rates and the introduction of vaccines combined to give consumers the confidence to start spending again. Employers have made 18 million new hires since April 2020 and are expected to add another 575,000 this month. The United States is still short of jobs it had in February 2020.
In September, there were a near-record 10 million job openings. The number of people quitting their jobs in September was the highest on record, a sign that workers are becoming morechoosier about their jobs.