U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Dip To Nine-Month Low

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First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly showed another modest decrease in the week ended January 21st, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 186,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level of 192,000.

The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to rise to 205,000 from the 190,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the unexpected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 181,000 in the week ended April 23, 2022.

"There may still be some noise in the data related to seasonal factors, but that's not the whole story," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, "The low level of claims reminds us that the labor market remains tight, as many employers hold onto workers and that those being laid off are finding it relatively easy to find new jobs."

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also slipped to 197,500, a decrease of 9,250 from the previous week's revised average of 206,750.

Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose by 20,000 to 1.675 million in the week ended January 14th.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims still fell to 1,664,250, a decrease of 10,750 from the previous week's revised average of 1,675,000.

Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for January.

Economists currently expect employment to inch up by 16,000 jobs in January after jumping 223,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent.

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