The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week to a near five-year low, a sign of economic health that could help convince the Federal Reserve to wind down a bond-buying stimulus program.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Claims are now near their levels in January 2008, the early days of the 2007-09 recession. The lowest level this year was 322,000 earlier this month.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to fall to 330,000 last week.
A department analyst said data for three states was estimated because the states did not provide data in time for the report.Note:
- last week's numbers were revised upward by 1,000
- this week, three states numbers were estimated -- we've seen how that has worked out in the past
The four-week moving average:
The four-week moving average for new claims fell to its lowest level since October 2007, before the recession began. This measure, which is closely followed because it irons out week-to-week volatility, dipped 3,000 to 328,500.