Claims for U.S. jobless benefits fall by 10K to 245K

Paul Wiseman
Associated Press

Washington — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as most U.S. workers continue to enjoy job security.

The numbers: The Labor Department said Thursday that claims for jobless aid fell by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 245,000 last week. The less-volatile, four-week average rose by 2,250 to 242,000.

The takeaway: Applications for unemployment benefits are a proxy for layoffs. They’ve come in below 300,000, a historically low figure, for 118 straight weeks, longest such streak since 1970.

Overall, nearly 1.92 million people were collecting unemployment checks, down nearly 10 percent from a year ago. The four-week average number of Americans receiving jobless aid was 1.91 million, lowest since January 1974.

Key drivers: The job market is healthy, though hiring has slowed recently — partly because employers can’t find workers when the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low 4.3 percent. The economy has generated 162,000 jobs a month so far this year — up from an average 157,000 a month from January through May last year, but down from an average 187,000 a month for all of 2016.