New applications for unemployment benefits dropped 7,000 to 222,000 in the second full week of February, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, the second-lowest mark of the recovery and a good sign for the economy.
Forecasters had expected new jobless claims to remain steady at an ultra-low 230,000. Lower claims are good news because they mean fewer people are getting laid off.
Thursday’s mark is the lowest since the early 1970s, setting aside the week of January 13, when claims touched as low as 216,000.
The report should raise expectations for a very strong jobs report for the month of February, since it covered the week in which businesses will be surveyed.
From the low level of claims, it appears that employers are holding onto employees more, rather than laying them off, likely because workers are becoming harder to find.
“In short, claims remain historically low, consistent with the trend in employment growth remaining more than strong enough to keep the unemployment rate trending down,” noted Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics.
The unemployment rate already stands at 4.1 percent, the lowest since the turn of the century. full story