jobless claims fall from five-month high
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[December 17, 2015]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of
Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week fell from a
five-month high, suggesting sustained labor market healing that could
lead to further Federal Reserve interest rate hikes next year.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 11,000 to a
seasonally adjusted 271,000 for the week ended Dec.12, the Labor
Department said on Thursday. The prior week's claims were unrevised.
It was the 41st straight week that claims remained below 300,000, a
threshold associated with strong labor market conditions. That is
the longest such run since the early 1970s.
The Fed on Wednesday raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by
25 basis points to between 0.25 percent and 0.50 percent, the first
hike in nearly a decade. The U.S. central bank said there had been
"further improvement" in the labor market and that "underutilization
of labor resources" had diminished appreciably since the beginning
of the year.
While claims tend to be volatile around the holiday session, the
trend has continued to point to strengthening labor market
conditions. The four-week moving average of claims, considered
abetter measure of labor market trends as it strips outweek-to-week
volatility, slipped 250 to 270,500 last week.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors
influencing the data and that only claims for Louisiana had been
estimated as the state implements a new computer program.
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The claims data covered the survey period for December nonfarm
payrolls. The four-week average of claims dipped 500 between the
November and December survey periods, suggesting another strong
month of job gains. Payrolls increased by 211,000 in November.
As the labor market approaches full employment, claims probably have
little room for further declines. The claims report showed the
number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of
aid fell 7,000to 2.24 million in the week ended Dec. 5.
The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims
increased 16,250 to 2.20 million.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)
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