The Labor Department reported Thursday that the labor market tightened further last week, with initial jobless claims dropping to their lowest level in more than 53 years.
Initial jobless filings fell to 166,000, well below the Dow Jones estimate of 200,000 and 5,000 under the previous week’s total, which was sharply revised lower. The department noted that it reviewed the claims from 2017 to 2021 and changed the seasonal factors it uses to calculate the numbers.
Last week’s total was the lowest since November 1968.
However, the numbers reflect a job market that is subject to severe labor shortages. There are about 5 million more jobs than there are workers available, a situation that has pushed up wages and contributed to rising inflation.
Federal Reserve officials are raising interest rates in an attempt to constrain the huge demand that comes amid ongoing struggles in supply chains.
Despite the various hurdles the economy faces, employment has remained fast, with nonfarm payrolls rising by about 1.7 million in the first quarter of 2022.
However, continuing claims are up, totaling 1.52 million, according to data that came a week after the headline figure.
The total number of recipients of benefits under all programs decreased to 1.72 million. The number was 18.4 million a year ago, when the government was providing enhanced support to displaced workers Corona virus disease. The outbreak of the renewed epidemic during the winter season showed little effect on the overall job numbers.
Correction: Jobless claims totaled 166,000 for the week ending April 2nd. There is a previous version that misspelled the number.