US jobless claims hit lowest level in more than 43 years

Low totals suggest that American businesses are more confident about their prospects

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 January, 2017, 10:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 January, 2017, 10:25pm

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than 43 years, another sign that most American workers enjoy job security.

The US labour department said Thursday that 234,000 Americans sought jobless aid, a drop of 15,000 from the previous week and lowest since November 1973. The four-week average, which is less volatile, fell by 10,250 to 246,750, also the lowest since November 1973. The total number of people receiving unemployment benefits was 2.05 million, down 7.7 per cent from a year earlier.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have now come in below 300,000 for 98 straight weeks. The low totals suggest that businesses are confident about their prospects that they are holding on staff.

The unemployment rate last month came in at 4.7 per cent, close to what economists consider full employment.

Employers aren’t cutting many jobs, but their hiring has slowed. They added 180,000 jobs a month last year, down from an average 229,000 in 2015.

business-article-page