Washington (AFP) – New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits fell back to a 42-year low last week, suggesting further tightening of the jobs market, Labor Department data showed Thursday.
Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, dropped by 13,000 to 253,000 in the week ending April 9.
The decline took claims back to their lowest level in 42 years that was reached in early March. Claims have held below 300,000 for 58 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1973.
The previous week’s level was revised down by 1,000 to 266,000.
“Claims have been choppy this year,” said Ryan Sweet of Moody’s Analytics. “The decline in initial claims over the past couple of weeks likely overstates the strength of the job market.”
The four-week moving average of claims, which helps to smooth week-over-week volatility, fell by 1,500 to 265,000. A year ago it was 280,500.
The US unemployment rate rose slightly in March to 5.0 percent on rising entrants into the labor market, while jobs growth remained solid.
The Federal Reserve projects the jobless rate will fall to 4.7 percent this year.