Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, showing a healthy job market at the start of 2017.
Jobless claims rose by 10,000 to 247,000 in the week ended Jan. 7 from the lowest level since 1973, a report from the Labor Department showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 255,000 applications. Continuing claims decreased.
The job market is getting tighter as unemployment is near a nine-year low, creating a shortage of skilled workers that is prompting businesses to hold on to existing employees. Few firings combined with steady hiring will help to underpin a pickup in wages and boost consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.
Economists’ estimates in the Bloomberg survey for initial jobless claims ranged from 240,000 to 275,000. The figure for the previous week was revised to 237,000 from 235,000.
The four-week moving average decreased to 256,500 last week, from 258,250.
While there was nothing unusual in the figures, jobless claims last week were estimated for Virginia, according to the Labor Department.
Claims have stayed below the 300,000 level for 97 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since 1970 and typically consistent with an improving job market.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits dropped by 29,000 to 2.09 million in the week ended Dec. 31. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.
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