“This is the lowest level of unemployment benefit applications since the end of 1969.”

Layoffs Just Reached a Half-Century Low
By Sharon Nunn
The Wall Street Journal
September 6, 2018

The number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits fell at the end of August to a nearly five-decade low.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., declined to a seasonally adjusted 203,000 in the last week of August, the Labor Department said Thursday. This is the lowest level of unemployment benefit applications since the end of 1969. Though data can be volatile from week to week, the four-week moving average of claims, a steadier measure, also fell to a 49-year low, signaling overwhelming tightness in the U.S. labor market.

Jobless claims have remained low in recent years, as the labor market continues to strengthen and managers face difficulty finding qualified employees. U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell back to 3.9% in July, hovering near the lowest level since April 2000, according to the Labor Department’s latest jobs report. Meanwhile, the number of open jobs this spring exceeded the number of unemployed Americans seeking work for the first time in records going back to 2000.

Thursday’s jobless claims report is one of several sets of economic data pointing to late business-cycle strength in the economy. Economic growth in the second quarter was the strongest since 2014, and the manufacturing industry appears to be hitting a second wind, clocking the strongest growth in 14 years.

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