After unemployment claims declined to pandemic lows for two straight weeks, a new reading from the Labor Department on Thursday will put the labor market into sharper focus.
The data has been volatile from week to week, but most economists expect initial claims to decline over the coming months.
“We’re not quite at a full reopening yet,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist with the career site Glassdoor. “But the light is there at the end of the tunnel.”
Although weekly jobless claims remain above levels reached before the pandemic, vaccinations and warmer weather are offering new hope.
“The labor market is definitely moving in the right direction,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the online job site Indeed. Still, she cautioned that industries like tourism and hospitality would probably remain depressed until the pandemic was firmly under control. She also stressed that child care obligations might be preventing people ready to return to work from seeking jobs.
“We still are in a pandemic — the vaccinations are ramping up, but there is that public health factor still,” Ms. Konkel said. “We’re not quite there yet.”