The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week to a historically low level, showing that the labor market remained healthy. Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 in the week ended Feb. 4, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated initial claims to rise to 248,000 in the latest week. "There is no sign of a pickup in layoff activity. We continue to view the signal of extremely subdued layoffs from the jobless claims data as evidence of companies attempting to retain their workers in a tight labor market," said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.
The Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 101 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1970. At that time, the data base was much smaller than today. The four-week moving average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure of labor market trends, fell by 3,750 to 244,250 last week, the lowest level since November 1973.
Other indicators also show the tightness in labor market. Unemployment rate was reported at 4.8 percent last, while nonfarm payrolls rose to 227,000 in January.