January 10, 2016: According to a report from the US Department of Labor, first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to 235,000 in the week ended December 31. The figures were down from 265,000 the week before and the lowest total since November.
Economists expected claims to fall to 260,000 from the preceding week’s figures. Instead claims dropped to a lower level, although these figures may have been influenced by seasonal fluctuations observed during the Christmas season.
Economists calculate that claims below 300,000 go along with a falling unemployment rate. New claims have averaged over 257,000 for the past month, and haven’t hit the 300,000 mark in 96 weeks, the longest streak since 1970.
As unemployment is already low, at 4.6 percent in November, below the level that Federal Reserve officials generally believe is sustainable. The labour market is considered to be at or near full employment, with the jobless rate at a nine-year low of 4.6 percent.