The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits has plunged to the lowest level in three weeks, as the labour market remained tight. Initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped by 10,000 to 230,000 for the week ending August 19, Xinhua news agency quoted the Labour Department as saying on Thursday. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 claims, according to official data. The four-week moving average of initial claims, a less volatile measure, rose by 2,250 to 236,750. Continuing claims, which include those who have received benefits for longer than one week, edged down to 1.7 million for the week ending August 12.
The figure was about 9,000 fewer than the previous week, and down from a high of 1.86 million in mid-April. Applications for unemployment aid reached a higher level above 260,000 for a few weeks this spring, raising some concern, but then receded. Earlier this month, the government reported that US employers added 187,000 jobs in July, fewer than expected, but still a reflection of a healthy labor market. The unemployment rate decreased to 3.5 per cent, close to a half-century low. The latest unemployment claims report “broadly showcases a labour market that has remained strong and is supporting renewed momentum in the economy”, Bloomberg said in a report. “Employers are still hiring at a healthy pace, and the wave of layoffs that made headlines earlier this year seems to be abating,” it said.