June 20, 2019 2:15 PM, EDT

Drop in Jobless Claims Latest Sign of Strong Labor Market

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Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits declined the most in five weeks in another sign the jobs market remains strong, underscoring the outlook of Federal Reserve officials.

Jobless claims fell to 216,000 in the week ended June 15, according to Labor Department figures released June 20 that were slightly below the estimate in Bloomberg’s survey of economists. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, edged up to 218,750.

Claims for U.S. unemployment benefits declined by the most in five weeks.

Jobless claims near historically low levels point to employers struggling to find workers and looking to retain them. The improvement is consistent with the Fed’s characterization this week that the labor market remains strong, a bright spot propping up wages and spending.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast claims would fall to 220,000.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, dropped by 37,000, the most since April, to 1.66 million in the week ended June 8. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.2%.