Jobless Claims Hit Lowest Level in 49 Years

QUEBEC CITY, QC - JUNE 08: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) gives a thumbs up to the media as he is greeted by Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau during the G7 official welcome at Le Manoir Richelieu on day one of the G7 meeting on June 8, 2018 in …

The U.S. jobs market is sizzling.

The number of people seeking jobless benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since November 1969, a sign the job market remains strong despite the partial government shutdown, now in its fifth week.

The last time claims were this low the labor market was half the size it is now.

Jobless claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have been closely followed for signs that tariffs could weigh on the U.S. economy. So far this metric signals that those predictions have not come true.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid declined 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 199,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, dropped 5,500 to 215,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise from 212,000 to 218,000. A week ago, there were 212,000 applications for unemployment benefits, revised down from 213,000.

The tally of furloughed federal employees requesting unemployment aid jumped to 25,419, more than double the previous week. Those figures are tracked separately from other unemployment claims. A year ago, without a shutdown, just 1,650 federal employees filed.

Despite the rise, the federal employee number is significantly below potential federal claims and below levels seen in past shutdowns. This suggests the shutdown is not yet causing significant financial strain on many federal workers.

–The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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