The fewest Americans in nine weeks filed applications for unemployment benefits, a sign of further strength in the labor market that will continue to support the U.S. expansion.
Jobless claims dropped by 20,000 to 268,000 in the week ended March 28, the lowest since the period ended Jan. 24 and second-lowest in at least a year, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 286,000.
The figures indicate employers are upbeat about the prospects for sales after a recent slowdown and are dismissing fewer workers. The outlook for employment bodes well for household spending, the biggest part of the economy, and is in sync with Federal Reserve policy makers’ view of the job market’s progress.
“Everything is still good on the labor market front,” said Tom Simons, an economist at Jefferies LLC in in New York, who projected 270,000 claims. “One element of the economy that isn’t reflecting the weakness seen elsewhere is the job market. It indicates consumers will have more purchasing power and thus should be able to increase consumption.”
Estimates of 46 economists in the Bloomberg survey ranged from claims of 270,000 to 310,000 after an initially reported 282,000 the previous week. Thursday’s figures included revised seasonal adjustment factors from the Labor Department dating back to 2010.
No states estimated jobless claims last week and there was nothing unusual in the report, an agency spokesman said as the figures were released.