Daily Digit: Unemployment claims are back to 1973 levels

Sam Matthews

Daily Digit is the story behind the numbers that make our world work. Today we’re looking at the steady decline in unemployment. After initial claims fell to a 48 1/2 year low of 208,000 new unemployment claims during the first two weeks of July, the week ended July 28 saw an estimated 218,000 new claims. That’s the same number of initial claims as on Feb. 23, 1973. However, the average duration of unemployment is still far longer than it was back then — in February 1973, the average length of unemployment was about 11 weeks, while today it stands at about 23 weeks. Still, that’s a vast improvement over a high of 50 weeks back in August 2010.