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The first jobless claims in the United States last week fell to their pandemic low, as layoffs gradually slow and companies try to recruit due to labor shortages.

Figures from the Ministry of Labor showed that 360,000 people applied for unemployment benefits during the week, which is in line with economists’ forecasts. There were 386,000 new requests in the past week.

The total fell below 400,000 for three consecutive weeks. Nonetheless, it remains above pre-pandemic levels of around 200,000 per week.

The pace of jobless claims in the United States has slowly declined this year, reflecting healthier labor market conditions, as Covid-19 vaccinations and low levels of domestic coronavirus cases bolster the economy.

However, companies are struggling to fill vacancies as they seek to meet resurgent demand. In the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book released this week, employers said labor shortages in the economy were preventing them from equipping their businesses to desired levels.

Businesses in several central bank districts said they expected to continue to have difficulty finding workers until early fall, according to the Fed’s investigation.

Economists have identified several factors holding back hiring, including improved unemployment controls as part of the federal government’s fiscal stimulus.

Unemployed people can receive an additional $ 300 per week on top of regular state benefits, although about half of the states have stopped or are considering stopping extra unemployment assistance prematurely.

Fears over the coronavirus and barriers to child care are also preventing some people from re-entering the workforce, economists said.

Businesses across the country have said they have increased the use of cash incentives to attract and retain workers, the Fed reported.

Claims under another program that provides benefits to the self-employed and others who would not qualify for regular benefits have also declined. The federal pandemic unemployment assistance program registered 96,362 new claims last week, up from 100,590.

As of July 3, 3.24 million Americans were actively receiving unemployment benefits, up from 3.37 million the previous week.

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