February 8, 2018 9:45 AM, EST

Jobless Claims Decline, Approach an Almost 45-Year Low

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U.S. filings for unemployment benefits unexpectedly declined last week, hovering close to an almost 45-year low and signaling a tight job market, Labor Department figures showed Feb. 8.

Highlights of Jobless Claims for the Week Ended Feb. 3

• Jobless claims decreased by 9,000 to 221,000 (estimated 232,000).

• Four-week average, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 224,500 — lowest since 1973.

• Continuing claims declined by 33,000 to 1.92 million in week ended Jan. 27 (data reported with one-week lag).

Key Takeaways

The historically low level of jobless claims is a reminder that employers are holding on to existing staff given the difficulty finding experienced and qualified workers. Applications for jobless benefits below the 300,000 mark are considered consistent with a healthy labor market.

The latest monthly jobs report showed hiring remained vibrant entering 2018, with payrolls rising 200,000 in January and the unemployment rate holding near an almost 17-year low, which helped push up wage growth.

The solid job market is one reason behind ongoing gains in consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.

Other Details

• Prior week’s continuing claims reading was 1.96 million.

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

• Claims were estimated for Maine last week, according to the Labor Department.

With assistance by Jordan Yadoo