Below-forecast US jobless claims signal tight labour market

Washington - The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was less than estimated last week and near a four-decade low, indicating the job market remains tight, Labour Department data showed on Thursday.

Highlights of jobless claims (week ended August 19)

• Initial jobless claims increased by 2k to 234k (est. 238k)

• Continuing claims unchanged at 1.954m in week ended August 12 (data reported with one-week lag)

• Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than weekly figure, fell to 237 750 from 240 500 in prior wee.

Key takeaways

Firings remain historically low, as employers hold on to existing staff amid a shrinking pool of available workers and record-high openings.

Benefit claims may have declined earlier this month in part due to the end of seasonal retooling in the auto sector.

A robust labour market remains a primary driver of Americans’ improving attitudes about the economy and will help support consumer spending in the second half of the year.

Other details

• Prior week’s reading unrevised at 232 000

• Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits unchanged at 1.4%.

• No states or territories had estimated claims last week.

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