The Labor Department on Thursday released more good news about the economy: fewer Americans are filing for unemployment benefits.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 7,000 last week to reach a seasonally adjusted figure of 222,000 – marking a near 45-year low.
“Claims for six states were estimated because of Monday’s Presidents Day holiday,” notes CNBC. “Still, the underlying trend in claims suggested job growth in February, which should continue to underpin the economy.”
The four-week moving average, which is generally a more accurate indicator of labor market trends, fell to 226,000 last week.
Last week was also the 155th straight week claims remained below 300,000 – a threshold often associated with a strong labor market.
The decreasing number of claims is a trend continuing from January, when claims dropped to 216,000 – the lowest since January of 1973. Last month also saw a 1% increase in the Leading Economic Index (LEI) and a payroll increase of 200,000 jobs.
Unemployment is at 4.1%, a 17-year-low that is driving wage growth and pushing inflation towards the Feds’ goal of 2%.
“Strong employment gains in February would seal the case for an interest rate increase next month,” reports CNBC. “The Fed has forecast three rate increases this year,” but some economists expect to see four.
Editor’s note: Despite the market correction over the last couple of weeks, all signs point to a robust economy for the foreseeable future. Businesses are optimistic, they see a predictable future.
The flipside is that we will have the occasional correction, and we still have to deal with inflation and the rise in the fed rates. But the economy is very business friendly, so steady, boring, risk averse companies will be a good bet.