The Trump administration saw another success as the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week unexpectedly and reached the lowest level in nearly 49 years. Claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 204,000 for the week that ended on Sept. 8. This is the lowest level since December 1969, according to the Labor Department. The prior week was revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.
According to Reuters, economists had foreseen claims rising to 210,000 in the latest week. The latest unemployment claims data covered the Labor Day, when claims tend to be volatile. Only claims made in Maine were estimated last week, according to the Labor Department. The four-week moving average of initial claims fell by 2,000 last week to 208,000, which was also the lowest level since December 1969.
Currently, the labor market is near or at full employment and continues to improve. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 201,000 jobs in August, with annual wage growth showing its biggest gain in more than nine years. Job openings reached a record high of 6.9 million in July.
The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report noted that labor market is "tight throughout the country, with most districts reporting widespread shortages."
Increased hiring in the steel industry has offset rumored layoffs due to fears of a trade war with China. President Donald Trump has recently duties on another $267 billion of Chinese goods in addition to a $200 billion tariff list that is awaiting his signature. Duties have been levied on $50 billion of Chinese imports, which has brought retaliation from Beijing. The United States has also imposed tariffs with other trade partners, including Canada, the European Union, and Mexico.
Thursday's DOL report also showed the number of people receiving unemployment benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 15,000 to 1.70 million for the week ending on Sept. 1. This was the lowest level since December 1973. The four-week moving average of continuing claims dropped by 8,250 to 1.71 million, the lowest level since November 1973.