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July 11, 2019 10:45 AM, EDT

Jobless Claims Decline to Lowest Level Since Mid-April

Jobs David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

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Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits declined to a 12-week low, underscoring the Federal Reserve’s view that a robust labor market is underpinning economic expansion.

Jobless claims dropped to 209,000 in the week ended July 6, which included the July 4 holiday, according to Labor Department data released July 11. The figure was less than all estimates in a Bloomberg survey. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, fell to 219,250 from 222,500.

The drop in claims reinforces Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s message in congressional testimony July 10 that the labor market remains strong and is supporting consumer spending. He also said companies were still struggling to find skilled workers, though wages were by no means running hot. At the same time, other parts of the economy are slowing, particularly manufacturing.

A Labor Department report last week showed payrolls growth in June exceeded all economist estimates, indicating a firmer job market that’s luring more workers from the sidelines.