Fewer Americans filed first time applications for unemployment benefits last week, as the labor market appears to be holding up at a stronger level than expected.
New applications for state unemployment benefits fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 214,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. This was the fourth consecutive weekly decline, largely reversing the climb in claims in early December. The higher numbers in the first weeks of December led some to believe the labor market was cooling.
Economists had expected claims to come in at 219,000.
Jobless claims can be volatile from week to week so economists tend to look to the four-week average of claims as a better measure of the labor market. The four-week average fell by 9,5000 to 224,000 last week, confirming the idea that the labor market appears to be on a sound footing.