US jobless claims fell more than a 49-year low last week, signaling the strength of the US economy.
The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 to 192,000 seasonally adjusted for the week ending April 13, the lowest level since September 1969. The previous week’s data was revised to show 1,000 more received requests than previously reported.
Claims have now fallen for five consecutive weeks. Economists questioned by Reuters had expected claims to rise to 205,000 in the past week.
The Labor Department said that during last week, no states were estimated. The claims tend to be volatile at this time of the year because of the different timing of the Easter and Spring holidays.
The 4-week moving average for initial claims, which is a better measure of labor market trends as it cancels out the week-to-week volatility, fell from 6,000 to 201,250 last week, the lowest since November 1969.
The claims data covered the non-farm payrolls from the April Employment Report. The average claims for four weeks fell by 19,250 between March and April. This indicates strong employment growth after payroll was increased by 96,000 jobs in March.
Despite the slowing trend in employment, job gains remain higher than about 100,000 per month needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population. The unemployment rate is currently at 3.8%, close to the Fed’s expectations of 3.7% by the end of the year.
A report from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday showed modest employment growth in most parts of the US central bank in April. The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” report on business activity information collected from nationwide contacts showed a decrease in the “most commonly in manufacturing and construction”.
The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 63,000 to 1.65 million for the week ending April 6, a claims report showed on Thursday. The 4-week moving average for continuing claims fell 22,750 to 1.71 million.