The number of Americans making initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose in the first week of 2017 but remained near the lowest level in decades.
The Labor Department said Thursday that initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000 for the week ended Jan. 7. Economists had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits rising to 255,000 from a revised 237,000 in the prior week.
Jobless applications have now stayed below the 300,000 threshold normally associated with a strong jobs market for 97 straight weeks, the longest period since 1970 when the labor market was much smaller.
“Jobless claims remain in a very constructive range and are still evidence of an environment in which turnover is low and employers are generally content to maintain and expand their payrolls,” Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, told Reuters.
According to MarketWatch, “Some people likely delayed filing claims between the Christmas and New Year’s Day, leading to the bump up in the week stretching from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7.”
The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 1,750 to 256,500 last week. “Jobless claims usually swing up and down in the period that stretches from Thanksgiving to early January, as many Americans move in and out of the workforce during the holiday shopping season,” MarketWatch noted.
Thursday’s report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped by 29,000 to 2.09 million in the week ended Dec. 31, the first decline in so-called continuing claims since November.
“U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data amid disappointment over the lack of details regarding president-elect Donald Trump’s economic policy on Wednesday during his first press conference since his Nov. 8 election victory,” Reuters reported.