US weekly jobless claims

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Unemployment rolls continued to swell in the U.S. last week, though jobless claims hit their lowest level since the economy went into lockdown made to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

First-time filings for unemployment insurance hit 3.17 million last week, bringing the total to 33.5 million over the past seven weeks, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The total was slightly higher than the 3.05 million expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones and below the previous week’s 3.846 million, which was revised up by 7,000.

Though the numbers remain stark, that was the lowest total since the week ended March 14, shortly after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus strain a pandemic.

The layoffs associated with social distancing practices have wiped out all of the job gains the economy has seen since the recovery from the Great Recession.

The latest jobless claims numbers come a day before the Labor Department releases its nonfarm payrolls report for April. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect a plunge of 21.5 million, easily the worst month in U.S. history, with the unemployment rate surging to 16%.

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