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Thu Jan 10, 2019, 09:44 AM

Jobless claims fall to one-month low 216,000, labor market stays strong entering 2019

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell sharply in the first week of 2019 and returned close to a half-century low, reflecting a robust U.S. labor market whose strength is likely to keep the economy growing for the 10th straight year.

Initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, declined by 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 227,00 reading in the seven days ended Jan. 5.

The more stable monthly average of new claims, meanwhile, edged up by 2,500 to 221,750.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, slipped by 28,000 to 1.72 million. These claims fell below the 2 million mark last spring for the first time since 2000 and have hovered near a 45-year low for months.

What happened: New claims often bounce around during the holidays because of temporary hiring and other factors that make it hard for government to adjust the numbers for seasonal swings in employment.

Yet the broader trend remains clear: The labor market is the healthiest in decades, companies are still hiring and most Americans who want a job can find one.

The partial government shutdown, for its part, has had little effect on claims.

https://www.marketwatch.com/amp/story/guid/3F6904F8-1456-11E9-A12D-337519A9EE80

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