The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped to a 49-year low, signaling a strong labor market.

Reuters reports:

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 199,000 for the week ended Jan. 19, the lowest level since mid-November in 1969 when 197,000 applications were recorded, the Labor Department said.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 220,000 in the latest week. The Labor Department said claims for California, Kansas, North Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia and Hawaii were estimated last week because of Monday’s Martin Luther King holiday.

Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors told Reuters, “If you’re looking for good news on the economy, look no further than the labor market. Growth may be slowing, but the overall picture for workers and those seeking work remains quite positive.”

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