The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell to more than a 49-year low last week, but the drop likely overstates the health of the labor market as claims for several states including California were estimated.
Still, labor market conditions remain strong, which for now should help to temper fears of a sharp slowdown in economic growth. The economy is facing several headwinds, including a month-long partial shutdown of the federal government, which is starting to hurt both consumer and business confidence.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 199,000 for the week ended Jan. 19, the lowest level since mid-November in 1969 when 197,000 applications were recorded, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was revised lower to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.
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