Last week, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly, reaching a 48-year low as the labor market is on a continuous uptrend.
The industrial activity in the mid-Atlantic region accelerated in July, driven by an increase in new orders received by factories, other data showed on Thursday. Manufacturers were less optimistic about working conditions and capital expenditures over the next six months, a sign that import tariffs began to affect businesses.
The US Department of Labor said preliminary claims for unemployment benefits fell by 8,000 to 207,000 in the week ending July 14, the lowest recorded value since December 1969. Economists were expecting claims to rise to 220,000 in the last week.
This second consecutive decline in claims probably reflects difficulties in adjusting data for seasonal fluctuations at this time of year, especially when car manufacturers close assembly lines for annual retooling.
The four-week moving average for initial claims, which is a better measure of labor market trends, fluctuated between 2,750 and 220,550 last week. The weekly claims rate for four weeks fell 500 points between the two surveys in June and July, indicating strong job growth this month.
The US economy created 213,000 jobs in June, with unemployment rising to 4.0% as more Americans enter the labor force, signaling confidence in the available jobs. The average employment gains were 215,000 jobs per month during the first half of this year.
The labor market is seen as close to full employment. There were 6.6 million vacant jobs in May, indicating that companies could not find qualified workers.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that with appropriate monetary policy, the labor market will remain strong over the next few years. In a separate report on Thursday, the Philadelphia Fed said the labor conditions index jumped to 25.7 in July, from 19.9 in June.
The US Central Bank noted that the workers stretched across an extended range of professions, including highly skilled engineers, construction workers, IT professionals and truck drivers.