Weekly unemployment claims decrease again, still dwarf pre-pandemic levels

About 31,000 people in Missouri filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to state labor department data.

Those 30,702 initial claims were the lowest number of filings in nearly two months, down about 21,500, or 41%, from the week before. But they were nearly triple the highest weekly total from the couple months before the COVID-19 pandemic started decimating jobs.

More than 536,000 people in Missouri now have filed for unemployment over the last eight weeks. The state’s total civilian labor force as of March was about 3.1 million.

Nationally, the trend last week was the same: diminished job losses from the previous week that still dwarfed pre-pandemic totals. Nearly 3 million Americans filed for unemployment for the week, bringing the total number of claims over the last eight weeks to about 36.5 million, according to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

That means the average number of unemployment claims since March 21 has been about 4.6 million — nearly seven times the worst week in U.S. history prior to this pandemic.

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