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The number of Americans filing new jobless claims has declined, even as it remains above the pre-pandemic record.

The Labor Department on Thursday said 712,000 Americans filed new jobless claims last week, below the 780,000 claims economists had been expecting, NBC News reports.

The dip occurred after two weeks in a row of the number of new claims unexpectedly rising, The New York Times notes. Last week, the Labor Department reported 778,000 new claims, which came in worse than the 733,000 claims economists anticipated. This was the “first back-to-back increase since July,” Bloomberg reported.

This week’s number of claims, 712,000, is the lowest to be reported during the COVID-19 pandemic, CNBC reports. Still, the number continues to surpass 695,000, which was the all-time record for most new jobless claims in a week prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, economist Diane Swonk told the Times the decline may be due to Thanksgiving, explaining, “People don’t apply as much when there are holidays. There is a natural falloff that occurs, but we just don’t know how big it was.”

Economist Ian Shepherdson also warned in a note, “The plunge in initial claims does not refute the idea that the trend is rising; we expected a sharp fall because of the difficulty of adjusting for Thanksgiving,” per CNBC. “Initial claims likely will rebound strongly next week, probably rising above the 800K mark for the first time in eight weeks.” Brendan Morrow

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