Biden hails drop in US unemployment claims to half-century low

US President Joe Biden cheered government data released Thursday that showed unemployment benefit filings dropping to levels not seen in more than 50 years, calling it evidence his economic policies were working.

The Labor Department reported 187,000 new claims for jobless aid were made last week, seasonally adjusted, the lowest level since the week of September 6, 1969.

It also said the number of people receiving regular state unemployment benefits in the week ending March 12 was 1.35 million, the lowest it had been since January 3, 1970. Both of those figures represented decreases from the week prior.

“This historic progress is no accident: it’s the result of an economic strategy to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out,” Biden said in a statement.

The weekly claims data indicates the prevalence of layoffs in the world’s largest economy, and became closely watched in March 2020 when companies shed staff droves as the Covid-19 pandemic began and joblessness surged.

New claim filings have declined in the years since, as has the unemployment rate, both of which Biden has sought to take credit for as his approval ratings suffer amid a wave of price increases that has pushed the inflation rate to levels not seen since the 1980s.

“We have more work to do to cut costs for families, but today’s data are a reminder that the US economy is uniquely well positioned to deal with the global challenge of inflation,” Biden said.

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