U.S. Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Show Another Modest Decrease

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The Labor Department released a report on Thursday unexpectedly showing another modest decrease by first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 28th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 183,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 186,000. The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 200,000.

Jobless claims declined for the fourth time in five weeks, falling to their lowest level since hitting 181,000 in the week ended April 23, 2022.

"The latest jobless claims data are consistent with a tight labor market and leave the Fed on track to raise interest rates again at its March meeting," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

She added, "Despite a waning impact of seasonal adjustment factors, initial jobless claims continue to be subdued as layoffs economy-wide remain low, and the layoffs we do see in some sectors have yet to translate into a rise in new jobless claims."

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also slipped to 191,750, a decrease of 5,750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 197,500.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 11,000 to 1.655 million in the week ended January 21st.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also dropped to 1,651,500, a decrease of 10,500 from the previous week's revised average of 1,662,000.

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

Economists currently expected employment to increase by 185,000 jobs in January after jumping by 223,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate is expected to inch up to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent.

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