50-year low in jobless
The fewest people in nearly 50 years sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign of a strong job market and an unusually low level of layoffs.
Yet the decline in applications for jobless aid isn’t due solely to a tight employment picture. Many states have imposed stricter rules on their unemployment insurance programs — from making it harder to qualify to reducing the duration of benefits to cutting payouts.
The combined effect has been to reduce the number of unemployed people who apply for and receive aid, economists say. Nationwide, just 30% of people out of work now receive unemployment insurance, down from about 40% before the Great Recession.
The historically low level of people seeking aid “tells us we have a strong labour market, and that we’ve made policy changes that mean fewer people can qualify for benefits,” said Martha Gimbel, research director at job listings website Indeed.
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