U.S. jobless claims decline, approach an almost 45-year low

(Bloomberg) – U.S. filings for unemployment benefits unexpectedly declined last week, hovering close to an almost 45-year low and signaling a tight job market, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week ended Feb. 3)

Jobless claims decreased by 9k to 221k (est. 232k) Four-week average, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 224,500 -- lowest since 1973 Continuing claims declined by 33k to 1.92m in week ended Jan. 27 (data reported with one-week lag)

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A student practices welding techniques at the vocational training centre in Montmagny, Quebec, Canada, on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. In this region alongside the St. Lawrence River there aren\'t enough local workers interested in blue-collar jobs. With a jobless rate of 6 percent, the province has little choice but to turn to immigrants as its population ages more rapidly than the U.S., the U.K. and the rest of Canada. Photographer: Christinne Muschi/Bloomberg

Key Takeaways

The historically low level of jobless claims is a reminder that employers are holding on to existing staff given the difficulty finding experienced and qualified workers. Applications for jobless benefits below the 300,000 mark are considered consistent with a healthy labor market.

The latest monthly jobs report showed hiring remained vibrant entering 2018, with payrolls rising 200,000 in January and the unemployment rate holding near an almost 17-year low, which helped push up wage growth. The solid job market is one reason behind ongoing gains in consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.

Other Details

Prior week’s continuing claims reading was 1.96 million Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.4% Claims were estimated for Maine last week, according to the Labor Department