The number of U.S. jobless claims remained less than 300,000 for the second week, indicating the labor market is still stable despite the economic trends pointing to a slowdown.
The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits increased by 1,000 to 291,000 in the week through March 14, compared with 290,000 a week earlier, reported the Labor Department on Thursday.
“There’s clear progress in the labor market,” Jim O’Sullivan, a Valhalla, New York-based chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, told Bloomberg News. “With claims remaining under the 300,000 level, payrolls will keep growing at a strong pace. Employment growth is strong enough for consumer spending to continue to grow solidly.”
In February, employers absorbed 295,000 new workers, while the unemployment rate declined to at least a 6 ½ year low of 5.5 percent. Moreover, February was the 12th successive month that at least 200,000 jobs were created, the longest streak since 1994.
The four-week moving average, which is a much more accurate measure compared with the weekly data, rose to 304,750 in the week ended March 14, up from 302,500. Individuals who are still on unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 to 2.42 million for the week through March 7, while the jobless rate for individuals who are qualified for the benefits stood at 1.8 percent, a level it has remained since January.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve announced that its business activity index fell to 5.0 in March, its weakest level since February 2014. The figure stood at 5.2 in February 2015.
A figure above zero is an indication of an expansion in the region’s factory activity. Manufacturers revealed that new orders fell, along with unfilled orders as well as the average employee workweek. Shipments and inventories also declined. To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit www.forexminute.com/newsletter.
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