Jobless claims fell last week to their lowest level of the pandemic and the latest data on retail sales blew past expectations, renewing confidence in a dynamic economic revival.
About 613,000 people filed first-time claims for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, a decrease of 153,000 from the previous week.
In addition, 132,000 filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program that covers freelancers, part-timers and others who do not routinely qualify for state benefits. That was a decline of 20,000 from the previous week.
Neither figure is seasonally adjusted. On a seasonally adjusted basis, new state claims totaled 576,000.
“We’re gaining momentum here, which is just unquestionable,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. But she cautioned that the jobless claims levels, while good news, were still extraordinarily high compared to what they were before the pandemic.
“You’re still not popping champagne corks,” she said. “I will breathe again — and breathe easy again — once we get these number back down in the 200,000 range.”
In another sign of the recovery underway, retail sales surged in March, the Commerce Department said Thursday, as Americans…