The current fiscal year so far witnessed a lot of financial data coming in favor of the economy, and the positive employment numbers are among them. On the heels of the upbeat wage data, an official statement revealed that the number of persons filing for unemployment benefits in the country dropped to the lowest in around 45 years in the third week of February.
Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a report said nonfarm payrolls increased by 200,000 in January, exceeding expectations, and unemployment rate eased to 4.1%. The uptick in wages was marked by a notable improvement in hourly earnings.
Data released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed initial claims for jobless benefits dropped by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 in the week ended February 17, beating forecasts. Moreover, the trend was wide-spread, with the majority of the states registering a decline. Jobless claims have been kept below the 300,000-mark for the 155th week in a row now. The latest claims report excludes data from some of the hurricane-hit areas, where normalcy is yet to be established.
The most upbeat claims data in recent times had come in mid-January, after the number dropped to a record low of 216,000 in the week under reference. Recent statistics are indicative of the underlying strength of the labor market, and also the quickening pace of economic recovery. The improvement in the unemployment rate, which dropped to the lowest in about 17 years in January, points to a near-full labor market.
As usual, with the positive economic report comes inflation worries, which was underscored by the faster increase in the consumer price index last month. The situation is likely to prompt the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates at the next meeting, particularly if inflation hits the 2% target by then.