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The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits drops to 45-year low

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The numbers: Initial U.S. jobless claims rose by 3,000 to 229,000 in mid-March, but they remain near the lowest levels since 1970. And the number of people collecting benefits fell to a fresh 45-year low.

Economists polled by MarketWatch has forecast claims to total 225,000 in the seven days ended March 17. The level of claims gives a rough idea of how many people are losing their jobs.

The more stable monthly average of claims increased by 2,250 to 223,750, the government said Thursday.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, fell by 57,000 to 1.83 million. That’s the lowest level since December 1973.

What happened: New jobless claims were little changed in most states. Initial jobless claims have been hanging around the lowest levels since 1970 and show no sign of moving significantly higher.

Big picture: Hasn’t been this good in at least two decades. The unemployment rate recently fell to a 17-year low of 4% and is likely to dip below that mark in the next few months. And the economy added 313,000 new jobs in February, the biggest gain in a year in a half.

The biggest complaint in the jobs market? Companies say it’s hard to find the skilled workers the need.

What they are saying: “To put the current readings in perspective, initial claims averaged 245,000 last year, so the pace of layoffs appears to have ratcheted downward further from already historically low levels,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist of Amherst Pierpont Securities.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.38% and S&P 500 indexSPX, +0.25% sank on Thursday, but the selloff stemmed from worries over a brewing trade spat with China.


Originally published: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-edge-up-3000-to-229000-2018-01-18


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