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Weekly jobless claims fall to their lowest level in a year: Here’s how the headlines could affect your money

Last week, initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since the pandemic began.

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Markets slipped Wednesday, jobless claims fall to their lowest level in a year, and an important health-care deadline has been extended. Here's how the headlines could affect your money.

Tech sell-off

The three major indexes closed down Wednesday after an afternoon tech stock sell-off. The S&P shed 0.6%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 2%. The Dow closed down 3 points.

The market continued to decline Thursday morning.

Weekly jobless claims beat expectations

First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 684,000 for the week ending March 20. It's the first time in the Covid-19 era that claims fell below 700,000, and the lowest level since March 14, 2020, when shutdowns were just beginning.

The weekly total is a significant improvement from the prior week and well below economists' expectations. Experts see this as a sign the job market is gaining traction in the wake of the stimulus package and as the vaccine rollout ramps up.

Deadline to sign up for subsidized health care extended to August 15

Originally set to close on May 15, the special enrollment period for securing private health insurance plans through public exchanges has been extended three months, the Biden administration announced Tuesday.

The extension gives consumers until August 15 to take advantage of savings passed as part of the American Rescue Plan, which removes the income cap to qualify for premium tax credits and limits the amount anyone pays in premiums to 8.5% of their income.

VIDEO2:4702:47
Tax credits vs deductions: Here's the difference

Video by Stephen Parkhurst

Words you've heard: premium tax credit

A premium tax credit helps individuals and families cover the cost of premiums for health insurance plans purchased through public exchanges. The credit is refundable, meaning it could potentially result in a tax refund.

Generally, you qualify for a premium tax credit if your income falls within a certain range and you are not eligible to get coverage through an employer or through a government program like Medicaid or Medicare.

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