PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - New research shows that unemployment claims in Arizona have plummeted, reaching their lowest level since March of 2020.
According to researchers at the University of Arizona, initial claims for unemployment insurance in our state fell to 3,903 for the week ending on February 13. That's down from 7,670 the week before.
The current week count is the lowest we've seen since March 14, 2020.
Initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance also fell for the week that ended February 13, to 1,949. That was down from 2,492 the prior week.
On a national level, the country's initial claims for regular unemployment insurance fell slightly. But national claims were still nearly quadruple last year's count.
Other areas are showing slight signs of recovery as well, even though there's still a long way to go. The UArizona research shows more people are staying in hotels, seeing movies and going out to eat.
The researchers say the U.S. hotel occupancy rate bounced up to 45.1% for the week that ended on Feb. 13, up from 40.9% the prior week. (The uptick is believed to have been driven, in part, by Valentine’s Day.) But hotel occupancy is still down 23.6% over the year.
U.S. movie ticket sales rose to $8.2 million for the week ended February 18, but that's still down 93.5% from last year.
TSA says the number of travelers increased slightly last week to 6.3 million, which was up from 6.2 million the prior week. But in general, travel numbers are down down 58.1% compared to last year.
And a little love created a boost at Arizona restaurants. The research shows Valentine's Day helped fuel a spike at restaurants, and the number of diners at restaurants was up last week. But Phoenix dining numbers were still down 34.9% over the year.