Jobless claims by U.S. workers posted their biggest decline in nearly two years, a further indication of the strengthening of the U.S. labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits came in at a seasonally adjusted 234,0000 for the week ended April 1, the Department of Labor said Thusday. That was fewer than the 250,000 jobless claims forecast by economists polled by Reuters.
Jobless claims fell by 25,000, the largest drop since the week ending April 25, 2015. The four-week moving average of claims fell by 4,000 to 250,000. The four-week average is considered a more reliable gauge of labor market conditions as it isn’t as subject to factors, such as unseasonal weather, that can make the week-to-week numbers volatile.
This is the 109th weekly report in which jobless claims have fallen below 300,00, the level considered by many economists to mark a healthy labor market. That’s the longest stretch below the threshhold since 1970, according to data from the Federal Reserve.
There have been many signs recently that the labor market is on the strongest footing it has been in several years. Earlier this week, ADP and Moody’s Analytics said private payrolls grew in March by 263,000 jobs, more than economists expected.
The most closely watched labor market figure, the non-farms payroll number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is due on Friday. Economists had been expecting some pullback in the labor market following the very strong figures for February. But the strong ADP/Moody’s number has led many to raise their forecast. According to a survey by Reuters, economists are forecasting payrolls to increase by 180,000.