New applications for unemployment benefits dropped to 265,000 in the week before Christmas, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, down from 275,000 the week before.
That drop, a bit of good news over the holiday, was in line with private forecasters’ expectations.
Low jobless claims, which are adjusted for seasonal variations, are viewed as a positive sign for the economy because they suggest that layoffs are rare. Because the claims numbers are collected from state agencies each week, they provide a frequently-updated gauge of the labor market’s health.
Recently, the claims numbers have been signaling that the jobs market is likely to be strong as President-elect Trump takes over from President Obama.
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Economists calculate that new claims below 300,000 mean that the unemployment rate, already low at 4.6 percent in November, is likely to stay steady or keep falling — a possibility that could draw more people off the sidelines and into work.
Claims haven’t breached the 300,000 mark in 95 weeks, the longest such streak in 46 years. Over the past month, they’ve averaged 263,000.
There were no special events influence the most recent numbers, the Department of Labor said, although holidays can sometimes make it more difficult to seasonally-adjust the claims.
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