Low Jobless Claims Reach ‘Longest Streak’ Since 1973

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The number of workers filing for welfare because of a recent termination has remained below 300,000 for the longest time since 1973, according to a federal report Thursday.

Unemployment insurance provides a temporary income so long as the individual didn’t voluntarily leave their job or get fired for good reason. The Department of Labor reported that the number filing initial jobless claims has remained below 300,000 for the longest time since 1973.

“In the week ending June 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 264,000,” the report noted. “This marks 66 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1973.”

Initial claims, however, only track the number of people who file for the assistance upon losing their jobs. It doesn’t track those who continue to collect benefits and at best shows the program is not growing as quickly. The total number of people collecting unemployment insurance has declined slightly over the past year but still remains fairly high.

“The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending May 21 was 2,015,751, a decrease of 33,767
from the previous week,” the report continued. “There were 2,062,486 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2015.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported slow yet positive job growth, which is a likely contributor to the slight decline in the total number of people collecting unemployment insurance. It has reported an averaged 219,000 new jobs per month over the last year but slowed even further last month. Nevertheless those suffering from long-term unemployment remains a huge problem.

Individuals only qualify for unemployment insurance for a set amount of time based on the state they live in. Unemployed individuals in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Those suffering from long-term unemployed will not be added to the total number of people collecting jobless benefits.

The labor force participation rate tracks the number of employed or those actively seeking work as a percentage of the population. The Unemployment rate, in contrasts, doesn’t track those suffering from long-term joblessness. The rate has remained around 62.6 percent throughout the past year compared to 66 percent in the months leading up to the 2007 financial collapse. It has steadily declined since the last recession.

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