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Initial unemployment claims fall below 300,000, a pandemic-era low

For the first time since the pandemic began, the number of Americans filing initial unemployment claims fell below 300,000, The Washington Post reports, per the U.S. Labor Department. The news comes at an otherwise important time for the jobs market, which has, for the last two months, added jobs at a "decidedly slower-than-expected pace," per CNBC.

More specifically, first-time claims fell by 36,000 to just 293,000 for the week ended Oct. 9, "the best level since March 14, 2020," writes CNBC, in "another sign the jobs market is getting closer to its old self." 

Continuing claims, which run behind the "headline number" by one week, also dropped to their own pandemic-era low, having fallen by 134,000 to 2.59 million.

The Post notes, however, that "the decreasing number of layoffs may have less to do with a strong economy than workers' decisions to leave voluntarily"; 4.3 million Americans left their jobs in August, as workers nationwide continue to quit at "historically high rates."

The fall in claims also coincides with the end of the pandemic's enhanced employment benefits, adds CNBC, explaining that "most of the decline came from those leaving two pandemic-related federal programs as well as other extended benefits."