Fewer Americans applied for unemployment aid last week than at any time in the last 50 years, a sign employers are retaining workers amid a tight labor market.
Some 187,000 workers filed for jobless aid in the week ended March 19, the Labor Department said on Thursday.The numbers, adjusted for seasonal factors, are the lowest since 1969.First-time applications for unemployment are closely watched by economists as they generally track layoffs.
Meanwhile, 1.3 million Americans were collecting jobless aid in the week that ended March 12 — a more than 50-year low.
The figures are “a sign of just how tight labor markets are,” economists at Oxford Economics said in a note.”The decline in claims was broad-based among states and wasn’t overly influenced by seasonal adjustment factors.”
Earlier this month, the government reported that employers added a robust 678,000 jobs in February , the largest monthly total since July.Unemployment around the U.S.dropped to 3.8%, from 4% in January, extending a sharp decline in the jobless rate that has taken its lowest level since before the pandemic erupted two years ago.
“Demand for labor remains strong, apparent in the near-record levels of job openings which are far outpacing the number of unemployed in the economy.That should keep layoffs low, for now,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S.economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a research note.
businesses posted a near-record level of open jobs in January — 11.3 million — a trend has helped pad workers’ pay and added to inflationary pressures.
The Federal Reserve last week moved to tame the worst inflation since the early 1980s, raising its benchmark short-term interest rate and signaling up to six additional rate hikes this year.The rate hikes will eventually mean higher loan rates for many consumers and businesses.
The central bank’s policymakers have projected that inflation will remain elevated, ending 2022 at 4.3%.Earlier this month, the government reported that consumer inflation jumped 7.9% over the past year, the sharpest spike since 1982.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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