U.S. Jobless Claims Fall to 267,000

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The FINANCIAL — The number of Americans seeking first-time unemployment benefits fell last week, the latest sign of steady job creation, according to Nasdaq.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits, a measure of layoffs across the U.S., decreased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 in the week ended June 13, the Labor Department said on June 18. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 276,000 new claims.

The number of claims from the prior week was unrevised at 279,000.

Weekly jobless claims data can be volatile. A broader measure designed to smooth out big swings–the four-week moving average of claims–decreased 2,000 to 276,750 last week.

Economists typically believe the labor market is adding jobs when claims are below 400,000. They have consistently been below that mark for most of the past four years.

Over the past 15 weeks, they have held below 300,000, the longest such streak at that level since 2000.

Initial claims peaked at 665,000 in March 2009, in the waning months of the recession, as unemployment soared toward 10%. Last month, the unemployment rate was 5.5%.

While a marked improvement, there are still signs of slack in the labor market. For example, wages have increased only slowly, a large number of people have given up looking for work and many others are stuck in part-time positions but would prefer full-time jobs.

“At 5.5%, we have an unemployment rate that still exceeds the committee’s best attempts to estimate what is a normal unemployment rate for this economy,” Federal Reserve Janet Yellen said on June 17 after the central bank’s policy meeting.

Fed officials on June 17 left the central bank’s benchmark interest rate near zero. Ms. Yellen said they want to see further improvement in the labor market before the first rate increase since 2006.

Thursday’s report said the number of people filing continuing claims for unemployment benefits decreased 50,000 to 2.22 million in the week ended June 6. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.

The Labor Department said there were no special factors affecting the latest claims figures.


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