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Source: YCharts

The labor market is showing some signs of improvement: Jobless claims fell to 730,000 — a dramatic drop from 841,000 the previous week. And the latest jobs report showed a pandemic-era low unemployment rate of 6.3%

But, but, but: That's not the full story, experts say.

The big picture: Last week's jobless claims are significantly lower compared with the start of the pandemic, but they're still well above pre-pandemic levels.

  • Add in the fresh filings for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program last week — created for gig and self-employed workers — and claims totaled close to 1.2 million.

One possible reason for the drop-off: Winter storms that caused power outages across Texas and beyond may have prevented some from filing for unemployment.

  • "Claims in Texas fell last week, but some economists say that could have reflected difficulty in filing for benefits," Wall Street Journal's Eric Morath writes.

Between the lines: When you account for the scores of Americans — such as overwhelmed parents and caregivers — who have simply dropped out of the workforce or others who have given up looking for work, the unemployment rate is closer to 10%, notes Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the jobs site Indeed.

There's also a great deal of inequality baked into the jobs trouble.

  • The Black unemployment rate is at 9.2%, compared with the 5.7% white unemployment rate.
  • And 2.1 million women have dropped out of the labor force, compared with 1.7 million men.

The bottom line: "The labor market is in a better spot than it was last April, but its recovery is incomplete and unequal," Bunker says.

What to watch: Workers that refuse work at unsafe workplaces will now be eligible for unemployment pay, according to a change by the Biden administration on Thursday.

Go deeper

States pass coronavirus aid without Congress

A health care worker administering a coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Oakland, Calif., on Feb. 16. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Multiple states have passed or are considering economic relief bills as the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan makes its way through Congress, AP reports.

Why it matters: The state aid packages aim to help jobless residents and struggling small businesses devastated by the pandemic. But the individual action also bolsters arguments against another major cash infusion from the federal government.

Exclusive: Texas nonprofit got massive border contract after hiring Biden official

Migrants attempting to enter the United States from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo: David Peinado/Xinhua via Getty Images

A Texas nonprofit that recently hired a Biden transition official got a contract worth as much as $530 million to help manage the influx of migrant children at the southern border, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The contract is by far the largest ever awarded to Family Endeavors. It's potentially worth more than 12 times the group's most recently reported annual budget — a sign of the demand the new work will place on its operations.