US jobless claims fall for third week in tight labour market

US filings for unemployment benefits fell for a third week and remain near the lowest in almost five decades, indicating a tight job market, Labour Department figures showed on Thursday.

Highlights of jobless claims (week ended August 18)

• Jobless claims decreased by 2k to 210k (est. 215k); lowest since 208k on July 14, which was fewest since 1969.

• Continuing claims fell by 2k to 1.727m in week ended August 11 (data reported with one-week lag).

• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 213 750, lowest in three months

Key takeaways

While applications can be volatile from week to week, the trend reinforces signs that businesses are holding on to existing staff and adding new workers to help meet demand.

Economists will likely pay extra attention to Thursday’s figures because they encompass the 12th of the month, the reference period for the Labour Department surveys that produce the monthly employment figures.

Those data show the unemployment rate is near the lowest since 1969 and payrolls are climbing at a solid pace even in the 10th year of the economic expansion. The report for August is due September 7.

Other details

• Prior week’s reading unrevised at 212 000.

• Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits unchanged at 1.2 %.

• Maine had estimated claims last week, according to the Labour Department.

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