Last week saw a decline in the number of Americans applying to unemployment benefits. This is another indicator that the U.S. economy and job market continue to recover from last year’s recession.

According to the Labor Department, unemployment claims dropped by 38,000 to 326,000. This was the first fall in four weeks. The weekly applications, which are a proxy for layoffs and have been declining steadily since January when they surpassed 900,000. They are still higher than pre-pandemic levels. Weekly claims were consistent at around 220,000 before COVID-19 devastated the U.S. economy.

After hitting a low of 312,000 in September’s pandemic, claims rose three weeks straight, suggesting that the highly contagious delta variant was at most temporarily disrupting recovery in job growth.

According to Contingent Macro Advisors, the recent rise in activity was partly due to backlogs in California and other states processing orders. Contingent Macro Advisors said that although the numbers could fluctuate over the coming weeks due to a shortage in computer chips, the trend towards lower jobless claims is still intact.

The spring of 2020 has seen a remarkable rebound in the overall job market. Employers were forced to reduce hours or close down operations as a precaution and cut more than 22,000,000 jobs between March and April 2017. However, the Federal Government’s massive assistance and the introduction of vaccines have supported an economic recovery. This has given consumers the financial means to spend and the confidence they can return to bars, restaurants and shops.

Employers have added 586,000 jobs per month so far this year. According to FactSet’s survey of economists, this month’s employment report is due Friday. It will show that they added 488,000 more in September.

Now, companies are complaining about the inability to find skilled workers quickly enough to fill their job openings (record 10.9 million in July).

In total, 2.7 million Americans received some form of jobless assistance in the week ending Sept. 25, a drop of 97,000 over the previous week. The federal government withdrew additional aid, including $300 per week in traditional state benefits, in September to lessen the economic impact of the pandemic.