US jobless claims at 52-year low

About 1.42 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits in the week of April 9 — the fewest since 1970

Applications for unemployment benefits inched down last week, as the total number of Americans collecting aid fell to its lowest level in more than 50 years.

Jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 184,000, the Labour Department announced, setting another record for the administration of US President Joe Biden.

About 1.42 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment benefits in the week of April 9 — the fewest since February 21, 1970.

During the administration of previous president Donald Trump, the economy lost 2.9 million jobs and the unemployment rate increased by 1.6 percentage points to 6.3 per cent, according to FactCheck.org.

Historically, presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan saw the highest number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits.

Mr Ford took over the presidency in 1972 after Richard Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal. He lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter, who created more jobs in one term than any other post-World War Two president.

Mr Reagan defeated Mr Carter in the 1980 election and served two terms as president.

The 1973 recession dragged on into 1975 and unemployment reached a new post-World War Two record of 9 per cent in May 1975. The lowest it recovered to during Mr Ford’s presidency was 7.4 per cent in May 1976.

Surging oil prices and the Iran hostage crisis did not help Mr Ford's successor, Jimmy Carter though he created more jobs in his one term than many two-term presidents.

Two years after the coronavirus pandemic plunged the economy into a brief but devastating recession, some American workers are enjoying extraordinary job security.

Weekly applications for unemployment aid, which broadly track with layoffs, have remained consistently below the pre-pandemic level of 225,000.

Last year, employers added a record 6.7 million jobs, and they’ve added an average of 560,000 more each month so far in 2022.

The unemployment rate, which soared to 14.7 per cent in April 2020 in the depths of the Covid-19 recession, is now just 3.6 per cent, barely above the lowest point in 50 years. And there is a record proportion of 1.7 job openings for every unemployed American.

The US job market and overall economy has shown remarkable resiliency despite ongoing supply chain breakdowns, the economic consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the highest consumer inflation in 40 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: April 22, 2022, 7:33 PM
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