Jobless Claims in U.S. Drop to Lowest in Almost Five Decades

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U.S. Jobless Claims Fall

U.S. filings for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in almost five decades, indicating the job market remains tight, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week ended Feb. 24)

  • Jobless claims decreased by 10k to 210k, lowest since Dec. 1969 (est. 225k)
  • Continuing claims rose by 57k to 1.93m in week ended Feb. 17 (data reported with one-week lag) 
  • Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 220,500, also the lowest since 1969, from the prior week’s 225,500

Key Takeaways

The latest decline in weekly claims shows a tight labor market is increasingly pushing employers to hold on to existing staff amid a persistent shortage of qualified workers. Applications for jobless benefits are well below the 300,000 tally that’s typically considered consistent with a healthy labor market.

Overall, the employment picture remains solid, with payrolls continuing to increase and the unemployment rate at the lowest since late 2000. Job growth will help sustain consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.

Other Details

  • Prior week’s reading was revised to 220,000 from 222,000
  • Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits rose in prior week to 1.4 percent from 1.3 percent
  • Maine had estimated claims last week, according to the Labor Department

— With assistance by Chris Middleton

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