Company representatives talk with job seekers during a National Career Fairs job fair in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

Jobless Claims Fall to 216,000, Showing Tight U.S. Labor Market

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. filings for unemployment benefits decreased for the third time in four weeks, hovering near an almost five-decade low that reflects a robust job market.

Jobless claims fell by 1,000 to 216,000 in the week ended Dec. 22, matching the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists and following a revised reading of 217,000 for the prior week, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, fell to a six-week low.

Jobless Claims Fall to 216,000, Showing Tight U.S. Labor Market

Key Insights

  • Employers continue to hold on to existing workers and are reluctant to fire staff, one reason why applications for unemployment benefits are still near historically low levels.
  • The trend for jobless claims is in line with other data showing strong demand for workers. That’s helping to support consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, at a time the trade war with China is clouding the outlook for businesses.

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  • Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, dropped by 4,000 to 1.7 million in the week ended Dec. 15.
  • The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.2 percent for a third straight week.
  • Claims for California, Kansas, Texas and Virginia were estimated last week, according to the Labor Department.
  • While the weekly data tend to be volatile, economists watch these figures for a timely read on the labor market’s health.

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