US jobless rate falls despite economic slowdown
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, a report released yesterday showed.
the data suggests that the labour market continues to expand at a solid clip even as economic growth has stalled.
Sustained labour market strength supports views that the sharp slowdown in activity is probably temporary. A host of factors ranging from bad weather to a strong dollar has sucked momentum from the economy in the first quarter. "The report reinforces our view that labour market conditions continue to improve despite recent disappointments in a number of indicators related to GDP growth," said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000 for the week ended March 28, the Labor Department said yesterday. That was the lowest level since January.
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 14,750 to 285,500 last week.
The bullish labour market tone was also underscored by signs that more people are coming off the unemployment benefits rolls.
The number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 88,000 to 2.33 million in the week ended March 21, the lowest reading since December 2000.
The strong labour market should keep the Federal Reserve under Janet Yellen, pictured, on track to start raising interest rates this year.