U.S. Jobless Claims Fall for Second Month

Washington, Rabi’I 16, 1438, Dec 15, 2016, SPA — Fewer people filed initial applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits last week, the second consecutive week that jobless claims have declined, the government reported Thursday as the labor market continued to tighten.
The Labor Department said jobless claims fell 4,000 to 254,000 last week. It was the 93rd consecutive week that claims were below 300,000, a level associated with a healthy and improving labor market. That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the population and the labor market were much smaller. The market is considered to be at or near full employment.
The four-week moving average of claims—a better measure of labor-market trends because it smoothes weekly volatility—rose by 5,250 to 257,750.
Jobless claims fell to a 43-year low of 233,000 in mid-November before rising to a five-month high of 268,000 two weeks later.
The overall number of people receiving state unemployment benefits rose 11,000 to 2.02 million people last week, though the figure remains 10.1 percent lower than a year ago.
The continued low number of jobless claims suggests that employers are confident enough in the economy to retain their workers. The job market is healthy, generating a solid 178,000 jobs in November. Overall growth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), expanded at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter following weak performance in the first half of the year.
–SPA
18:37 LOCAL TIME 15:37 GMT