Claims for jobless benefits drop by 4,000

Applications for unemployment benefits drop by 4,000, indicating virus impacts not showing up yet

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits, a good proxy for layoffs, dropped by 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 211,000. Claims had fallen by 4,000 in the previous week as well.

Applications for unemployment benefits are being watched for any signs that the virus has started to trigger major layoffs.

Some economists are already warning that the economic impact of the virus could be severe enough to push the global economy into a recession.

Some analysts argue that the economy should be strong enough to withstand the adverse effects of the virus. Last week, the government reported that the unemployment rate in February returned to a 50-year low of 3.5% as employers added 273,000 new jobs, evidence that the labor market was in good shape before the coronavirus began spreading across the country.