The labor market tightened further last week, with initial jobless claims falling to their lowest level in more than 53 years, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Initial unemployment filings fell to 166,000, well below the Dow Jones estimate of 200,000 and 5,000 below the previous week’s total, which was revised down. The ministry noted that it had revised claims from 2017 to 2021 and changed the seasonal factors it used to calculate the numbers.
Last week’s total was the lowest since November 1968.
The figures nevertheless reflect a labor market subject to a serious shortage of labour. There are about 5 million more job openings than there are available workers, a situation that has pushed up wages and contributed to soaring inflation.
Federal Reserve officials are raising interest rates in an attempt to rein in the outsized demand that comes amid ongoing struggles in supply chains.
Despite the various headwinds in the economy, hiring remained buoyant, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by nearly 1.7 million in the first quarter of 2022.
Continuing claims, however, rose to 1.52 million, according to data that lags a week behind the overall figure.
The total number of people receiving benefits under all programs fell to 1.72 million. The number was 18.4 million a year ago, when the government provided increased support for workers displaced by Covid. The further spread of the pandemic over the winter had little impact on the total number of jobs.
Correction: Unemployment insurance claims totaled 166,000 for the week ended April 2. An earlier version incorrectly stated the number.