Applications for US jobless aid fell to 3-month low of 232K

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 19, 2017

For the week ending May 13, new claims for unemployment benefits slipped to 232,000, down 4,000 from the prior week, marking the third consecutive decrease and the lowest level since February. That's the lowest level in almost three months.

The persistently low level of layoffs is one sign the labor market is tightening and may be at or near the level that economists consider maximum employment.

Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labour market, for 115 straight weeks, the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labour market was smaller.

Continuing claims declined once again to 1.898mn for the week ending May 6th from a revised 1.920mn the previous week and this was the lowest reading since November 1988. The figure has fallen 12 percent in the past year.

Hiring managers remain more occupied with finding workers than trimming staff, with the headline jobless rate drifting below the Federal Reserve's estimate of full employment. That has resulted in an increase of consumer spending which is cranking up the economy and driving the need for more workers.

Data such as retail sales and industrial production, which suggested economic growth picked up early in the second quarter after rising at an anemic 0.7 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, also have supported expectations of a rate hike. This year, the job gains have averaged 185,000 a month - the same pace as in 2016.

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