U.S. Claims for Jobless Benefits Fall to Lowest Since April
A job seeker fills out a job application during a Job Fair Giant career fair in Sterling Heights, Michigan, U.S. (Photographer: Laura McDermott/Bloomberg)

U.S. Claims for Jobless Benefits Fall to Lowest Since April

(Bloomberg) -- The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits declined last week to the lowest level since mid-April, adding to evidence that the nation’s jobs engine continues to motor ahead.

Jobless claims dropped by 15,000 to 202,000 in the week ended Feb. 1, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 215,000. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, decreased to 211,750.

U.S. Claims for Jobless Benefits Fall to Lowest Since April

Initial applications for jobless claims have declined in seven of the last eight weeks, consistent with the view of Federal Reserve policy makers that the labor market remains robust. Economists monitor claims for signs of a turn in hiring momentum, and the historically low level suggests scant signs of significant deterioration in the jobs picture.

Friday’s jobs report is projected to show employers continue to hire at a steady clip, while the unemployment rate is forecast to hold at a five-decade low of 3.5%.

While continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, rose 48,000 to 1.75 million in the week ended Jan. 25, it marked just the first increase this year.

The Labor Department said claims were estimated for Alabama and Pennsylvania.

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