The number of applications for unemployment benefits in the US dropped close to a 49-year low last week. Data from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims decreased by 13,000 to 199,000 for the week ended January 19. This marks the lowest level since November 15, 1969, when claims totaled 197,000.
The four-week moving average of initial claims dropped 5,500 to 215,000 last week. These numbers indicate strength in the labor market providing optimism regarding the overall state of the economy. The ongoing partial government shutdown is hurting economic growth but does not seem to have affected the claims data in a significant way.
The number of unemployment applications from federal employees rose by around 15,000 to 25,419 for the week ended January 12. The shutdown is expected to drive the unemployment rate to over 4% in January from the 3.9% rate reported in December.
Last week’s initial claims level was revised down by 1,000 to 212,000 from 213,000. The insured unemployment rate was 1.2% for the week ending January 12. The number for insured unemployment dropped 24,000 to 1.71 million for the week ending January 12.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims increased by 1,250 to 1.73 million. The data for jobless claims by federal employees and continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.