U.S. jobless claims drop to new one-year low

In a sign the economic recovery is taking hold, the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits dropped much more than expected last week to a new one-year low.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial claims fell to 547,000, with Texas and New York reporting the largest declines. It marked the second straight week that claims were below 700,000 since March last year when non-essential businesses were shut down amid the health crisis.

The latest tally suggests layoffs are subsiding. It also strengthens expectations for another month of blockbuster job growth in April as the economy further re-opens.

The fast pace of vaccinations and the government’s mammoth rescue package have produced a surge in demand that has left businesses scrambling for workers.

Still, the labor market recovery has a long way to go. More than 17 million people collected unemployment checks in early April. And the latest jobless claims tally is still double the norm of a healthy labor market.