The vaccine rollout is speeding along, federal aid is pumping through the economy, and more and more businesses are being allowed to reopen—but the coronavirus pandemic is still forcing people out of work. The Labor Department revealed Thursday that the number of new jobless claims in the past week rose to 719,000, which is 61,000 higher than the week before. That’s very low compared to the astronomical numbers recorded at the beginning of the pandemic last spring—when a record 6.9 million people applied in one week at the end of last March—but it’s still historically high when compared to pre-pandemic times. The good news is that the four-week average of claims over the past month, which is a more reliable health indicator for the job market, fell by 10,500 to 719,000, which is the lowest since March 2020.
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