Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance fell last week by more than forecast, showing that employers are retaining workers in an increasingly tight labor market.
Initial unemployment claims decreased by 5,000 to 166,000 in the week ended April 2, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The level matched the lowest in 54 years. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 200,000 initial applications. The government’s report included annual revisions dating back to 2017.
Continuing claims for state benefits rose marginally to 1.52 million in the week ended March 26.
The drop in first-time applications is yet another sign of positive momentum in the labor market. Weekly unemployment claims have been falling for most of the year alongside declining COVID-19 cases and solid consumer demand that’s supporting business growth, including hiring.
A separate report last week showed that the U.S. added close to half a million jobs in March and the unemployment rate fell by more than expected, further highlighting labor market strength.
On an unadjusted basis, initial claims decreased to 193,137 last week.
Texas, Michigan and New Jersey were states registering the biggest declines in unadjusted claims.