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The weekly rate of job losses for Lancaster County residents continues to decline, yet it remains at more than twice the level before the pandemic hit.  

The number of county residents filing initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week by 6.1% to 435, the fewest since the pandemic began in mid-March, according to Lancaster County Workforce Development Board figures released Thursday.

Despite the recent drop, the volume of new claims for the week ending Aug. 8 is still more than double the volume during the first week of March, when 183 people filed for jobless benefits.

Statewide, initial jobless filings declined 8% to 27,000.

More dramatic was the drop nationwide. The number of initial claims for unemployment benefits was down 20% from the previous week to 963,000, the first time since pandemic-related business closures that the number was less than 1 million. 

In Lancaster County, the board’s statistics show that overall joblessness is also on the decline as more people head back to work.

Some 22,751 Lancaster County residents filed continuing claims for unemployment for the week ending Aug. 1, which was the most recent data available from the board. Those claims dropped 21% from the previous week and continue a downward trend since late June when those claims topped 32,000.

“We are looking at the decline with cautious optimism,” said Naomi Young, director of the Center for Regional Analysis of the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County. “The local and national unemployment numbers are trending similarly, suggesting businesses are starting to gain some confidence into their employment needs.”