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U.S. new jobless claims hit 52-year low

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level since humans first walked on the Moon.

The data, from the U.S. Department of Labor, out Wednesday showed the number seeking benefits dropped to levels not seen since 1969.

And the weekly number - just 199,000 - points to sustained growth in the U.S. economy after a year marked by shortages and an unending health crisis.

Employment growth has been fitful but strong, averaging 582,000 jobs per month this year.

But the workforce is down 3 million people from its pre-pandemic level, and it seems that many Americans are opting to remain idle even as unemployment benefits expire, schools reopen and companies raise wages.

The plunge reported Wednesday was exaggerated by the modeling the government uses to strip some seasonal fluctuations from the data, but the recovery is gaining momentum, and the number of Americans receiving continuing unemployment benefits is at the lowest level since the start of the health crisis in March of 2020.

Jobless data was released Wednesday this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday.