Accessibility links

Breaking News

US Unemployment Claims Drop

FILE: A woman looks for information on the application for unemployment support at the New Orleans Office of Workforce Development, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Taken Apr. 13, 2020.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, continuing to signal persistently tight labor market conditions.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 192,000 for the week ended Feb. 18, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 200,000 claims for the latest week. Claims have been hemmed in a tight 183,000-206,000 range this year.

The so-called continuing claims, a proxy for hiring, dropped 37,000 to 1.654 million during the week ending Feb 11, the claims report also showed. Though continuing claims have been elevated in recent weeks, they remain very low by historical standards amid millions of job openings.

Jobless claims have been consistently low despite high-profile layoffs in the technology sector and interest-rate sensitive industries.

Minutes of the Federal Reserve's Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 policy meeting published on Wednesday showed "several participants noted that recent reductions in the workforces of some large technology businesses followed much larger increases over the previous few years and judged that these reductions did not appear to reflect widespread weakness in the demand for labor."

There were 1.9 job openings for every unemployed person in December, data showed this month. The unemployment rate at 3.4% in January was the lowest in more than 53 years. Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday it expected the jobless rate to rise to 3.6% by the end of this year and stay there at the end of 2024.

Strong wage growth generated by the tight labor market is helping to underpin consumer spending and the overall economy.