The Associated Press reported that last week the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits was the lowest since mid-November 1969, falling from 71,000 to 199,000.

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The change could signal that the US job market is coming back from recession last year when the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the economy and left many people out of work.

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Although jobless claims hit their lowest level in more than half a century last week, the seasonal adjustment around Thanksgiving attributed the big decrease, the AP reported. Without adjustments, claims rose by more than 18,000 to nearly 259,000.

Unemployment claims and applications reflect layoffs, which became much more common when the pandemic hit. The four-week average of claims fell 21,000 to a little over 252,000, the lowest rate since mid-March last year.

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According to the AP, there has been a steady decline in applications since crossing 900,000 in early January, and they are now less than the 220,000 average level a week before the pandemic. The 2 million Americans who collected traditional unemployment assistance in the week ending November 13 also reported a slight decrease compared to the previous week.

“Overall, headline data expects continued volatility, but the trend is less than very slow,” Casual Macro Advisors wrote in a research note.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

As of September 6, the federal government had supplemented state unemployment insurance programs by paying an additional $300 per week and benefits to gig workers and those who were out of work for six months or more. The number of Americans receiving jobless aid, including federal programs, exceeded 33 million in June of 2020.

The job market has made a remarkable comeback since the spring of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to close or cut hours and kept many Americans at home as a health precaution. In March and April last year, employers cut more than 22 million jobs.

But government relief checks, super-low interest rates and the rollout of vaccines provided consumers the confidence and financial means to start spending again. Employers, to meet the unexpected surge in demand, have hired 18 million new ones since April of 2020 and expects to add another 575,000 this month. Still, the United States has 4 million fewer jobs in February of 2020.

Companies now complain that they are not getting employees for job openings, which hit a record 10.4 million in September. For the first time in decades, workers, finding themselves under the sway of bargaining, are becoming more picky about jobs; A record 4.4 million left jobs in September, a sign they are confident in their ability to find something better.