A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly edged lower in the week ended December 10th.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slipped to 211,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 231,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged compared to the 230,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the unexpected dip, jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 190,000 in the week ended September 24th.
“Initial claims data can be noisy around the holidays, but the low level of initial claims is a reminder that employers are reluctant to let go of workers they’ve struggled to find,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
The report showed the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 227,250, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 230,250.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, inched up by 1,000 to 1.671 million in the week ended December 3rd.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also climbed to 1,625,250, an increase of 43,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,582,000.
Vanden Houten said the uptick in continuing claims suggests “workers are collecting benefits for longer because finding a new job may be getting more difficult.”
“On balance, though, the claims data paint a picture of a labor market that is still too tight for the Fed and will leave the Fed on track to continue to raise rates further in 2023 after yesterday’s 50bps rate hike,” she added.
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