The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell to the lowest level since July 2008 last week, showing further strength in the labor market after the jobless rate declined to a 21-month low.
Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 36,000, more than forecast, to 383,000 in the week ended Feb. 4, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast claims would fall to 410,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance fell, while those collecting extended payments increased.
A slowdown in firings means U.S. companies may begin creating enough jobs to keep unemployment going down after the rate’s biggest two-month decline since 1958. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday said the jobless rate will likely stay high “for some time” as companies remain reluctant to add to payrolls.
“The first indication that we’re going to see strength falling into the labor market is a sustainable decline in initial claims,” Lindsey Piegza, an economist at FTN Financial in New York, said before the report. “This is a step in the right direction, signaling that, on the margin, businesses will begin to take on new employees.”
Over the last few weeks, we've seen spikes in this number which were supposedly caused by the weather. Now we know those claims were pretty much true.