Jobless Claims Decrease to Lowest Level Since February

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A strengthening labor market remains an engine for U.S. growth as the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest since February, Labor Department data showed Aug. 17.

Highlights of Jobless Claims for the Week Ended Aug. 12

• Initial jobless claims decreased by 12,000 to 232,000 (estimated 240,000).

• Continuing claims fell by 3,000 to 1.953 million in week ended Aug. 5 (data reported with one-week lag).

• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, inched down to 240,500 from 241,000 in prior week.

Key Takeaways

The government’s latest tally of filings, taken during the survey week for the monthly employment report, differs little from the average for the last several months and bodes well for August hiring figures.

The claims data are close to the 227,000 reported in late February, which was the lowest since the early 1970s.

Business managers, posting jobs at a record-breaking pace, have been less inclined to fire workers and more focused on picking up staff amid a dwindling pool of unemployed.

A healthy job market, despite still-subdued wage gains, is helping to keep up consumer spending and broader U.S. growth.

Other Details

• Prior week’s reading of 244,000 was unrevised.

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

• No states had estimated claims last week.