New jobless claims in New Hampshire dropped again last week, as the state's pandemic-battered labor market continues to improve.
At least 2,196 new applications for benefits were filed for the week that ended Feb. 27 – a decrease of 737 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.
There were 41 new claims last week for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally backed program that covers workers ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits. That's an increase of 16 from the previous week.
Meanwhile, 24,977 continuing claims – which lag behind a week but are viewed as a barometer of the unemployment situation – were filed in the week ending Feb. 20, declining by 621 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 crept up slightly to 4.1% in January, according to the latest figures released this week by the New Hampshire Employment Security.
Nationally, about 745,000 new jobless claims were filed last week, an increase of about 9,000 claims from the previous week, according to the Labor Department.
Continuing claims dropped by 124,000 to about 4.2 million nationally for the week that ended Feb. 20 the labor department said.
Despite the gradually improving labor market, more than 18 million Americans were still receiving state or federal unemployment benefits in the week ending Feb. 13.
The federal unemployment programs are set to expire on March 14, leaving more than 11 million out-of-work Americans without federal financial assistance.
Congress is debating President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package that would extend unemployment benefits and provide $400 per week to jobless beneficiaries.
The measure was approved by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives last Saturday and is expected to be taken up by the Senate beginning this week.
"If we act now – decisively, quickly, and boldly – we can finally get ahead of this virus," Biden said in remarks this week. "We can finally get our economy moving again."