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July 20, 2017 10:15 AM, EDT

Jobless Claims at Nine-Week Low Reflect Shortage of Workers

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News

The lowest level of filings for U.S. unemployment benefits in about two months may reflect growing demand for workers in a tight job market, Labor Department figures showed July 20.

Highlights of Jobless Claims

• Jobless claims decreased by 15,000 to 233,000 (forecast was 245,000); level in February was lowest since early 1970s.

• Continuing claims increased by 28,000 to 1.98 million in week ended July 8 (data reported with one-week lag).

• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 243,800 from 246,000 in prior week.

Key Takeaways

Filings fell close to the lowest level since 1973, which shows that employers in the United States are hesitant to fire workers as finding qualified applicants becomes increasingly difficult. Analysts may pay particular attention to the July 20 report because it covers the same week when the Labor Department conducts surveys for its monthly employment report, which is due out on Aug. 4.

Other Details

• Prior week’s reading was revised to 248,000 from 247,000.

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

• No states estimated claims last week.