US jobless claims fall to lowest level in over 50 years

(RTTNews) – Initial jobless claims in the United States fell to their lowest level in more than 50 years in the week ended March 19, according to a report released Thursday by the Labor Department.

The report showed initial jobless claims slipped to 187,000, down 28,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 215,000.

Economists expected jobless claims to fall to 212,000 from 214,000 initially reported the previous week.

With a bigger-than-expected decline, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 182,000 in September 1969.

“The decline in claims was widespread across states and not overly influenced by seasonal adjustment factors,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

She added: “We expect initial claims to remain low as employers struggling to hire and retain workers keep layoffs to a minimum.”

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also fell 211,750, down 11,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 223,250.

Continuing claims, a reading of the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 67,000 to 1.350 million in the week ended March 12, hitting the lowest level since January 1970.

The four-week rolling average for continuing claims also fell to a 52-year low of 1,431,500, a decrease of 31,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,462,500.

“We expect continuing claims to remain near these very low levels as job growth continues and more workers return to the workforce,” Vanden Houten said.

Next Friday, the Labor Department is due to release its more closely watched March jobs report.

Economists currently expect employment to jump 450,000 jobs in March after jumping 678,000 jobs in February.

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