US weekly jobless claims improving significantly

Chart of the week

At 498,000, initial jobless claims for the week ending May 1st have fallen to their lowest level since March 2020.

They had reached extraordinarily high levels at the start of the 2020 lockdown and then hovered around 800,000 between September 2020 and February 2021, a level well above all previous record highs.

Since the beginning of March, the number of claims has been on a clear downtrend to now reach the level that prevailed in November 2009, five months after the 2008–09 recession.


If the downtrend continues at the same pace as seen in the past two months, weekly jobless claims could return to the low points of 2019 as early as this summer. During the previous cycle it took almost a decade for claims to reach this level.

The speed of decline in weekly jobless claims will be a good indication of how quickly the labour market is returning to normal.


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The following opinion was written on May 5th 2021 and is susceptible of changing.

Sources : Bloomberg and Lazard Frères Gestion, May 5th 2021

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