US weekly jobless claims fall to lowest level in 5 decades

Initial jobless claims in the US last week fell to 166,000, the lowest level in over five decades, indicating continued labour market tightness, the Labour Department reported.

In the week ending April 2, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits decreased by 5,000 from the previous week’s downwardly revised level of 171,000, according to a report released on Thursday by the Department’s Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS).

Companies are struggling to hire as labour market supply cannot meet demand. The number of job openings was little changed at 11.3 million by end of February, the BLS reported last week.

The number of unemployed persons, however, decreased by 318,000 to a level of 6 million, according to the March unemployment report.

Robust wage growth, though good news for workers, could feed into the already elevated inflation, increasing the risk of sustained high inflation, according to economists.

The latest jobless claims report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits increased by 17,000 to 1.5 million during the week ending March 26.

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

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programmes, state and federal combined, for the week ending March 19 decreased by 52,806 to 1.7 million.

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