New Hampshire labor market improving, but new jobless claims up slightly

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New jobless claims in New Hampshire ticked up slightly last week, even as the state’s unemployment rate continues to drop.

At least 1,515 new applications for benefits were filed for the week that ended March 27 – an increase of 506 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly report.

There were 144 new claims last week for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally backed program that covers workers ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits. That’s the same number of claims filed during the previous week.

Many jobless workers in New Hampshire and other states were buoyed by a $1.9 trillion relief bill, signed by President Joe Biden three weeks ago, that extended those pandemic relief programs until September, including a $300 per week federal enhanced benefit.

Meanwhile, 22,129 continuing jobless claims – which lag behind a week but are viewed as a barometer of the unemployment situation – were filed in the week ending March 20, increasing by 537 over the previous week.

The state has paid out more than $1.8 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits since mid-March, when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

New Hampshire’s jobless rate dropped slightly to 3.3% in February, according to figures released last week by the New Hampshire Employment Security.

That’s the lowest unemployment rate in the Granite State since the outbreak began a year ago, and one of the lowest jobless rates in the nation.

Nationally, 719,000 new jobless claims were filed last week, a decrease of about 61,000 claims from the previous week, according to the Labor Department.

Continuing claims dropped by 46,000 to about 3.7 million nationally for the week that ended March 20, the labor department said.

Despite the gradually improving labor market, more than 18.2 million Americans were still receiving state or federal unemployment benefits in the week ending March 13.

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