Investing.com - The number of people who filed new applications for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week unexpectedly fell to their lowest in nearly 50 years, offering a sign that conditions in the labor market may not be deteriorating as sharply as recent economic indicators have suggested.
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that initial jobless claims in the week ended March 30 fell unexpectedly by 10,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 202,000. That was the lowest level since December 1969.
Analysts had expected 216,000. Claims for the prior week were revised up to 212,000.
The four-week moving average was 213,00, a decline of 4,000 from the previous week. The monthly average is seen as a more accurate gauge of labor trends because it reduces volatility in the week-to-week data. This gauge has been falling steadily since February.
The report said continuing jobless claims for the week ended March 23 fell to 1.717 million from 1.756 million in the preceding week. These claims reflect people who recently lost their jobs and are already receiving benefits.
The data make a reassuring prelude to Friday’s employment report for March.
According to a report Wednesday from payrolls processor ADP, the U.S. economy added the fewest private sector jobs in 18 months during March.
That came after February’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a sharp slowdown in job creation.
Economists forecast that Friday’s government report will show the creation of 180,000 nonfarm jobs, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 3.8%. Most of the focus will likely be on average hourly earnings, which are expected to rise 3.4% from a year earlier, similar to the increase reported in February.
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