Jobless Claims Drop

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Jobless claims drop to 3-week low of 230,000. Still no sign of rising U.S. layoffs.

The numbers: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell by 10,000 to a three-week low of 230,000, offering further evidence that the labor market remains rock solid.


New jobless claims slipped from a revised 240,000 in the prior week, the government said.

Unemployment claims typically rise when the economy weakens and a recession approaches. Claims still show a low number of job losses in a surprisingly resilient U.S. economy.

Economists had forecast the new claims in the week ending Aug. 19 to total 240,000.

Key details: Remarkably, the number of raw or actual claims — that is, before seasonal adjustments — dipped below 200,000 last week for the first time since last November.

New jobless claims fell in 44 of the 53 states and territories that report these figures to the federal government.

The biggest decline took place in Ohio, where reported claims have been suspiciously high for much of the year. They sank by 5,900 to 18,000.

The drop may reflect the ability of drivers at the bankrupt trucker Yellow Freight to find other jobs as well as the reopening of temporarily closed automobile plants. But many states have also struggled with a surge in fake claims applications.

The number of people collecting unemployment benefits in the U.S., meanwhile, slipped by 9,000 to 1.72 million. The available evidence suggests laid-off workers are finding new jobs relatively quickly.

Big picture: Hiring has slowed since last year, but the U.S. is still adding jobs and layoffs remain low. The labor market is likely to stay strong and keep the economy afloat as long as consumers keep spending.

If spending wanes, businesses could resort to more layoffs to offset the drop in demand and put the economy in the danger zone.

Looking ahead: “While we continue to expect jobless claims to increase in the future as the economy slows down, the last two weeks’ data show little evidence of a weakening in the labor market yet,” said chief economist Eugenio Aleman of Raymond James.


Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were set to open mixed in Thursday trades.


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