New US jobless claims drop below 700,000, 1st time since pandemic: govt

Washington (AFP) – New filings for regular unemployment benefits in the United States dropped to 684,000 last week, the government said Thursday, their first reading below 700,000 since the pandemic sparked mass layoffs. The result was much better than analysts forecast and comes as Covid-19 vaccinations offer hope the economy can recover this year — but in a sign of the virus’s ongoing toll, 241,745 new claims were received in the week ended March 20 under a special program for freelance workers, the Labor Department said. That was nonetheless nearly 42,000 less than the week before, and tho…

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