U.S. filings for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest level since January 1973, further evidence that the labor market remains tight, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.
Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week ended March 24)
- Jobless claims decreased by 12k to 215k (est. 230k)
- Continuing claims rose by 35k to 1.87m in week ended March 17 (data reported with one-week lag)
- Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 224,500 from the prior week’s 225,000
Claims at the lowest level in 45 years underscore a persistent shortage of qualified workers that has made employers reluctant to fire staff. Applications for jobless benefits below the 300,000 tally are typically considered consistent with a healthy labor market.
Other aspects of the job market remain robust, with payrolls continuing to exceed expectations and an unemployment rate near the lowest since late 2000. Steady employment will help to sustain consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.
The report reflects the annual revision to seasonal adjustment factors for initial and continuing claims from 2013 to present.