August 24, 2017 9:30 AM, EDT

Below-Forecast US Jobless Claims Signal Tight Labor Market

Amazon is Hiring Jim Young/Bloomberg News

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was less than estimated last week and near a four-decade low, indicating the job market remains tight, Labor Department data showed Aug. 24.

Highlights of Jobless Claims for the Week Ended Aug. 19

• Initial jobless claims increased by 2,000 to 234,000 (estimated 238,000).

• Continuing claims unchanged at 1.954 million in week ended Aug. 12 (data reported with one-week lag).

• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than weekly figure, fell to 237,750 from 240,500 in prior week.

Key Takeaways

Firings remain historically low, as employers hold on to existing staff amid a shrinking pool of available workers and record-high openings.

Benefit claims may have declined earlier this month in part due to the end of seasonal retooling in the auto sector.

A robust labor market remains a primary driver of Americans’ improving attitudes about the economy and will help support consumer spending in the second half of the year.

Other Details

• Prior week’s reading unrevised at 232,000.

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

• No states or territories had estimated claims last week.