By Nina Glinski and Victoria Stilwell in Bloomberg News
The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than eight years, reflecting what could be a pickup in auto making during a typically slow time of year.
Jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 284,000 in the week ended July 19, the fewest since February 2006 and lower than any economist surveyed by Bloomberg forecast, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. Applications can be volatile in July because of auto plant shutdowns, even as state data showed nothing inconsistent with prior years, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data was released to the press.
Fewer claims signal employers are reluctant to let go of staff as the talent pool shrinks and sales improve. A tightening labor market could lift wages and spur consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.
The four-week average of jobless claims, considered a less volatile measure than the weekly figure, decreased to 302,000, the lowest since May 2007, from 309,250 in the prior week.
The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits declined by 8,000 to 2.5 million in the week ended July 12, the fewest since June 2007. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.9 percent, today’s report showed. These data are reported with a one-week lag.
Employers added 288,000 jobs in June, lifting the average monthly advance so far in 2014 to almost 231,000. If that pace is sustained, it would be the best year since 1999.
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