(The Center Square) – New unemployment claims in New Hampshire dropped again last week, as the state's job market continues to rebound from the pandemic.
At least 1,488 new applications for benefits were filed for the week that ended April 24 -- a drop of 295 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.
There were 32 new claims last week for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally backed program that covers workers who don't qualify for state benefits, in the week that ended April 24. That's a decline of 6 claims over the previous week.
Meanwhile, 19,968 continuing state jobless claims – which lag behind a week but are viewed as a barometer of the unemployment situation – were filed in the week ending April 17, decreasing by 500 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% in March, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security.
Seasonally adjusted estimates showed 736,460 Granite Staters as were employed last month, a decrease of 11,840 from March 2020, the state agency said.
Gov. Chris Sununu has taken steps in recent weeks to ease COVID-19 restrictions and reopen the economy amid declining virus infections and one of the highest per capita vaccination rates in the nation. New Hampshire was one of the first states to lift a mask mandate two weeks ago.
Nationally, 553,000 new jobless claims were filed last week, a decrease of 13,000 claims from the previous week, according to the Labor Department. That's the lowest level for new claims since the week of March 14, 2020, the federal agency said.
Continuing claims increased by 9,000 to about 3.66 million nationally for the week that ended April 17, the labor department said.
Jobless workers in New Hampshire and elsewhere have been buoyed by a $1.9 trillion relief bill, signed by President Joe Biden last month, that extended federal pandemic relief programs until September, including a $300 per week federal enhanced benefit.
More than 16.5 million Americans were still receiving state or federal unemployment benefits in the week ending April 10, a decrease of about 1 million from the previous week.