New US jobless claims reach 100th week below 300,000

New claims for US unemployment insurance fell in the final week of January, extending a streak of low levels to 100 consecutive weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The figures supported the general picture of health in US labor markets but came a day before the department is due to release highly-anticipated monthly employment report showing job creation and unemployment.

For the week ending January 28, initial claims for jobless benefits stood at 246,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, a decrease of 14,000 from the prior week and also below a consensus forecast by analysts.

The result marked 100 weeks below 300,000, a streak not seen since 1970.

The more stable four-week moving average rose slightly, up 2,250 from the prior week to 248,000.

While weekly jobless claims figures can be volatile, but are used to gauge the prevalence of layoffs and the health of jobs markets.

Strong job creation and low unemployment since mid-2016 helped persuade US monetary policymakers to raise interest rates in December for only the second time in a decade.

However, the Federal Reserve this week stood pat. Sluggish wage growth and tame levels of inflation have persisted, removing some pressure on the US central bank to raise rates more quickly.


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