Unemployment benefit claims fall to a four-decade low

Unemployment claims

Americans seeking unemployment benefits have fallen to a four-decade low.

Weekly applications for jobless benefits declined to 247,000 last week, the lowest reading since November 1973, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The four-week average dropped by 4,500 to 260,500 and the total number of people receiving benefits has fallen by 7.6% to 2.14 million.

Applications are used to determine recent layoffs. Based on current numbers employers are holding onto their workers, and possibly hiring more employees.

It’s a good sign that employers are holding onto some confidence with the current economy, despite a rocky start to the year.

A level of applications this low generally corresponds with monthly net job gains of more than 200,000.

Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 59 straight weeks, the longest consecutive period since 1973.

The lower jobless claims could help overcome concerns about economic growth at the start of the year. Growth has been lower than the 1.4% annualized gain in the final three months of 2015.

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