New applications for U.S. unemployment insurance benefits dropped 28,000 for the week ending March 19 to a seasonally adjusted 187,000. The number is the lowest recorded since September 1969. The weekly drop also brought the four-week moving average as of March 19 down to 211,750 from 223,250 as of the week ending March 12.
Weekly initial unemployment insurance claims were at a record high of 6.15 million in April 2020.
The continued reduction of initial unemployment claims comes after the national unemployment rate dropped from 4.0% in January to 3.8% in February—a two-year low.
Unemployment insurance refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.
The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.
For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.