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Weekly Jobless Claims Drops to a 53-year Low

According to figures issued Thursday by the Department of Labor, just 187,000 persons in the United States registered for initial weekly unemployment benefits last week, compared to experts’ projections of 210,000. The last time the weekly figure was that low was on September 6, 1969, just days after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon and hippies at Woodstock were jamming out to Jimi Hendrix. One hundred eighty-two thousand individuals applied for unemployment benefits at the time.

The latest unemployment claims number was also lower than the previous week’s revised figure of 215,000. Even as consumers feel the squeeze of increasing oil and gas costs and other inflationary pressures, the labor market remains a bright light in the US economy. The substantial Jobless numbers could lead the Federal Reserve to step up its interest rate hikes to keep inflation in check.

The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point earlier this month, the first time since December 2018. At the Fed’s next meeting on May 3-4, traders are now pricing in a roughly 70% chance of a half-point rate rise.

Demand for labor is strong, and there are no reasons to believe that this will change soon, barring another wave of a new Covid variant. The government will report its closely watched monthly Jobless figures for March next Friday. If the latest Jobless claims numbers are any indication, the unemployment rate could fall, and jobs gains should be solid. Wage growth may remain robust too. It is an excellent time to be looking for work since the labor market is tight, wages are rising, and workers have negotiating power in many industries, said Ted Rossman.

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