The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to healthy labor market conditions.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 4,000, to a seasonally adjusted 232,000 for the week ending May. 13th, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Jobless claims had declined for the third straight week.
Economists polled by Reuters had estimated initial claims to rise to 240,000 in the latest week.?
The Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 115 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 2,750 to 240,750 last week.
The labor market is close to full employment. The continued strength in the labor market may support the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates at next month’s meeting. Investors anticipate two more rate hikes this year. The Fed increased the borrowing cost to a target range of 0.75 percent to 1 percent in March.