The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell unexpectedly last week to a historically low level, showing that the labor market remained strength
Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 in the week ended Jan. 14, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised up by 2,000 to 249,000. Economists polled by Reuters had estimated initial claims to rise to 254,000 in the latest week.
“Jobseekers continue to join the labor force amid a growing level of confidence that they’ll be able to get a job,” said Mark Butler, state labor commissioner.
The Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 98 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 10,250 to 246,750 last week.
The continued strength in the labor market supported Fed’s decision to raise interest gradually. According to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s speech in San Francisco yesterday, the Fed plans three rate hikes in 2017.