he number of Americans submitting claims for unemployment benefits fell by more than expected last week.
“Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 for the week ended Jan. 5, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was revised up to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported,” Reuters writes.
That the news could indicate “a strengthening labor market that could further ease concerns about the economy’s health.”
Economists had predicted that claims would only decline to 225,000 last week.
Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York, told Reuters, “There are increasing risks and caution over the economic outlook in 2019, but jobless claims say the seas are calm and it looks to be smooth sailing for the economy for now.”
The news comes on the heels of last week’s great economic report on December job growth, which saw 312,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs added.
Wages also jumped 3.2 percent from 2017 and .4 percent over November.
Just 176,000 jobs were expected for December and wages were expected to rise by 3 percent.
Payroll growth for 2018 stood at 2.6 million, the highest since 2015, and the health care industry added over 50,000 new jobs for the month.
Chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, Paul Ashworth, told CNBC, the job report “suggests the US economy still has considerable forward momentum.”
“The far bigger than expected 312,000 jump in non-farm payrolls in December would seem to make a mockery of market fears of an impending recession,” he said.