US weekly jobless claims fall to 214K, lowest since start of yr

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Initial jobless claims in the US last week fell to 214,000, the lowest level since the beginning of this year, the Labour Department reported.

In the week ending March 12, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits decreased by 15,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised level of 229,000, according to a report released on Thursday by the Department’s Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS).

The latest data, which is slightly better than the Dow Jones estimate for 220,000, marked the lowest level since the start of the year, another sign that the labour market is very tight, reports Xinhua news agency.

Earlier data showed that unemployment rate slightly dropped to 3.8 per cent in February as the Omicron-fueled Covid-19 surge fades.

The four-week moving average for initial jobless claims, a method to iron out data volatility, decreased by 8,750 to 223,000, the BLS report showed.

The latest jobless claims report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits, which run a week behind the headline numbers, decreased by 71,000 to 1.419 million.

That number peaked in April and May in 2020, when it was over 20 million.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs — state and federal combined — for the week ending February 26, however, increased by 59,516 to nearly 1.97 million.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate, the federal funds rate, by a quarter percentage point to a range of 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent from near zero, a major step in exiting from the ultra-loose monetary policy enacted at the start of the pandemic.

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