The number of new applications filed by Americans for claiming unemployment benefits declined last week from a seven-month high, indicating toward the improving labor market conditions.
The US Labor Department report, released on Thursday, showed that the initial jobless claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 307,000 for the week that ended on January 17.
Last week’s figures for new jobless claims applications fell short of the expectations of many economists who had predicted a 300,000 reading.
The economists had turned down the previous week’s surge as “noise” given that the jobless claims data is tough to adjust for seasonal variations in the holiday period. However, they were few who wondered that if some of the rise in unemployment benefits claims reflected layoffs in the oil sector in the wake of declining crude prices.
Economist Daniel Silver, from New York-based JP Morgan, said, “It is unclear at this point whether or not this move up in the trend reflects issues seasonally adjusting the data around the holidays or if it represents a more meaningful deterioration in the labor market.”
The four-week moving average of jobless claims, which is considered as a better measure of the trends in the country’s labor market because it irons out week-to-week volatility, surged 6,500 last week to 306,500, pushing it above the 300,000-level for the first time since September last year.
The employment gains in the country have crossed 200,000-mark in each of the last 11 months, which is the longest stretch since 1994. On the other hand, the job openings also reached near 14-year highs. Additionally, the unemployed people ratio for every job opening is also witnessed the lowest since early 2008.
According to the claims report, the number of Americans still getting the jobless benefits after an initial week of aid rose 15,000 to 2.44 million in the week that ended on January 10.