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March 22, 2018 11:45 AM, EDT

Jobless Claims Creep Higher While Benefit Rolls Lowest Since 1973

US Jobless Claims Indicate a Tight Labor Market
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

U.S. filings for unemployment insurance crept higher while the number of Americans on benefit rolls fell to the lowest level since 1973 in another indication of a tight job market, Labor Department figures showed March 22.

Highlights of Jobless Claims for the Week Ended March 17

• Jobless claims increased by 3,000 to 229,000 (estimated 225,000).

• Continuing claims fell by 57,000 to 1.828 million in week ended March 10 (data reported with one-week lag) to the lowest level since December 1973.

• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 223,750 from the prior week’s 221,500.

Key Takeaways

The U.S. labor picture remains solid, with filings for benefits holding well below the 300,000 level each week that analysts consider healthy. Federal Reserve policy makers on March 21 projected lower unemployment rates in the coming years than in their previous round of forecasts in December, and new Chairman Jerome Powell said the job market “remains strong.”

Other Details

• Prior week’s initial claims reading unrevised at 226,000.

• Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits unchanged at 1.3%.

• Colorado and Maine had estimated claims last week, according to the Labor Department.

With assistance by Chris Middleton