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US Jobless Claims Dip to 211,000, Hover Near Half-Century Low

Friday, May 24, 2019

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The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits in Mid-May fell slightly and returned close to a half-century low, signaling that a muscular U.S. jobs market is still going strong.

Initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, dipped by 1,000 to 211,000 in the seven days ended May 18, the government said. Economists polled by MarketWatch estimated new claims would total a seasonally adjusted 217,000.

The more stable monthly average of new claims fell by 4,750 to 220,250.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, rose slightly to 1.68 million. One year ago, these claims were about 100,000 higher.

What happened: Jobless claims have settled back near a 50-year low after a spike last month tied to seasonal changes in employment around the Easter holiday and spring break for schools.

Big picture: By most measures the U.S. labor market is the strongest in decades. Wages are rising, job openings are at a record high and layoffs and unemployment are at a 50-year low. Indeed, the Federal Reserve used the word “strong” a dozen times to describe the labor market in the minutes of its last meeting in early May.

The sizzling labor market is keeping the U.S. economy on stable growth path despite increasing headwinds such as a trade tensions with China that have rattled businesses. What’s unclear is whether the labor market can maintain its momentum if both sides dig in for a protracted fight.

What they are saying? “In short, claims remain low, consistent with a still-strong trend in employment growth,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Source: MarketWatch

Category: Economic News

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