The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength even as the pace of job growth is slowing. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000 for the week ended Sept. 3, the lowest level since mid-July, the Labor Department said yesterday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
Economists had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 265,000 in the latest week.
It was the 79th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with robust labor market conditions. That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller. Despite very low layoffs, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged at its upcoming Sept. 20-21 policy meeting in the wake of a slowdown in job growth last month and a contraction in manufacturing activity. Services sector activity in August was the slowest in 6-1/2 years.
The U.S. central bank raised its benchmark overnight interest rate at the end of last year for the first time in nearly a decade, but has held it steady since amid concerns over persistently low inflation The dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies, while prices for U.S. government debt fell.
About the author
Research Associate at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University