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May 18, 2017 8:50 AM, EDT
Falling Jobless Claims Add to Signs of Labor Tightness
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

The U.S. labor market continues to show signs of tightening, with unemployment claims declining for the third straight week and benefit rolls matching the lowest level since 1973, Labor Department data showed May 18.

Highlights of Jobless Claims

• Initial benefit filings decreased by 4,000 to 232,000, the lowest since late February.

• Continuing claims fell by 22,000 to 1,898,000 in the week ended May 6.

 • Four-week average of initial claims declined to 240,750 from 243,500 in the prior week.

Key Takeaways

Hiring managers remain more occupied with finding workers than trimming staff, with the headline jobless rate drifting below the Federal Reserve’s estimate of full employment.

Benefit claims have been a particularly durable indicator of tightness in the labor market, with initial filings holding at lower than 300,000 for more than two years. The gauge contributes to Fed policymakers’ case that the economy can withstand further increases in the benchmark interest rate this year.

Other Details

• Previous week’s initial claims were unrevised.

• Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits unchanged at 1.4%.

• Louisiana had estimated claims last week.