FILE - New Hampshire Employment

A man walks into a restaurant displaying a "Now Hiring" sign, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Salem, New Hampshire. Content Exchange

(The Center Square) – New jobless claims in New Hampshire dropped overall last week, as more workers returned to jobs amid improving public health metrics.

At least 1,759 new applications for benefits were filed for the week that ended April 17 – an increase of 119 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.

But the slight uptick in new claims for state benefits was offset by a big drop in new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally backed program that covers workers not eligible for traditional state unemployment benefits. There were only 38 claims for PUA benefits last week, a drop of 630 claims over the previous week.

Meanwhile, 20,341 continuing state jobless claims – which lag behind a week but are viewed as a barometer of the unemployment situation – were filed in the week ending April 3, decreasing by 3,024 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 dropped slightly to 3% in March, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security.

Seasonally adjusted estimates showed 736,460 Granite Staters as were employed last month, a decrease of 11,840 from March 2020, the state agency said.

While the state's labor market remains choppy, Gov. Chris Sununu has taken steps in recent weeks to reopen the economy amid declining COVID-19 infections and increasing numbers of vaccinated residents. Last week, he lifted a statewide mask mandate and rolled back other restrictions on New Hampshire businesses.

Nationally, 547,000 new jobless claims were filed last week, a decrease of 39,000 claims from the previous week, according to the Labor Department. That's the lowest level for new claims since the week of March 14, 2020, the federal agency said.

Continuing claims increased by 34,000 to about 3.67 million nationally for the week that ended April 10, the labor department said.

Jobless workers in New Hampshire and elsewhere have been buoyed by a $1.9 trillion relief bill, signed by President Joe Biden last month, that extended federal pandemic relief programs until September, including a $300 per week federal enhanced benefit.

More than 17.4 million Americans were still receiving state or federal unemployment benefits in the week ending April 3.

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