The number of Americans filing for unemployment reached an unexpected 5-month low this week, according to claims data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The claims data shows that last week, initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 233,000. This topped the previous low of 227,000 recorded in February, making it the lowest number of claims filed since March 1973.
Economists generally delineate a threshold of 300,000 claims to signal a strong job market. Last week marked the 124th straight week claims fell below that number. Economists polled by Reuters projected the number of claims to be at 245,000. The United States has nearly achieved full employment, with the jobless rate at a meager 4.4 percent.
Even the four-week moving average of claims, which some consider a better indicator of a truly healthy job market, fell 2,250 to 243,750 last week. Onlookers in the economic field are observing that the continued rise of labor keeps the Feds on track to raise interest rates for the third time this year.
Nonetheless, there continues to be a lessening in labor market slack, as the number of individuals receiving continuing claims remained under 2 million for the 14th consecutive week.
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