US Jobless Claims At 45-Year Low

San Diego Thomson Reuters

US filings for unemployment benefits plummeted to the lowest level in nearly 45 years in a sign the job market will tighten further in 2018, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 220,000, a decrease of 41,000 from the previous weeks unrevised level of 261,000.

Claims for the prior week were unrevised. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 250,000.

The Labor Department said claims for California, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Hawaii, Virginia and Wyoming were estimated.

Claims procedures in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico still have not returned to normal after hurricanes battered area a year ago.

Claims have remained historically low, showing the overall health of the labor market. That is the longest such stretch since Y 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.

The less volatile four-week moving average fell by 6,250 to 244,500.

The unemployment rate was 4.1% in December, holding at a 17-year low, and analysts say the job market could further tighten this year, potentially tugging the unemployment rate below 4%.

The data were collected during the survey week for the closely-watched monthly jobs report, suggesting January could see continued strong job creation.

Given the growing reports of labour shortages, employers have reduced layoffs to record low levels partly out of fear they may not be able to replace the workers they let go. There are about 5.9-M job openings in the country.

The 4-Wk MA of continuing claims gained 4,000 to 1.92-M.

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