Num­ber of job­less fil­ings low­est in 43 years

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Christo­pher S. Rugaber AP Eco­nomics Writer

WASHINGTON >> The num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing U.S. un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits fell to the low­est level since 1973 last week, ev­i­dence that busi­nesses are con­fi­dent enough in the econ­omy to hold onto their work­ers.

THE NUM­BERS >> Weekly ap­pli­ca­tions for job­less ben­e­fits fell 19,000 to a sea­son­ally ad­justed 235,000, the La­bor De­part­ment said Thurs­day. The four-week av­er­age, a less volatile mea­sure, dropped to 253,500.

The num­ber of peo­ple re­ceiv­ing ben­e­fits fell 66,000 to 1.98 mil­lion, the fewest in more than 16 years. THE TAKE­AWAY >> Ap­pli­ca­tions are a proxy for lay­offs, and have re­mained below 300,000 for 89 straight weeks. That’s the long­est streak since 1970.

All those fig­ures in­di­cate that

job cuts are very low. Busi­nesses are hun­gry for work­ers and are re­luc­tant to let go of any that they have. Hir­ing is typ­i­cally healthy in such cases.

“Clearly the lat­est news ... sent an up­beat sig­nal about the la­bor mar­ket,” Daniel Sil­ver, an econ­o­mist at JPMor­gan, said.

Some of the drop may re­flect last week’s Vet­er­ans’ Day hol­i­day, Sil­ver said. The gov­ern­ment some­times has dif­fi­culty sea­son­ally ad­just­ing

for the hol­i­day, Sil­ver said, mean­ing that ap­pli­ca­tions could bounce back up next week.

Com­pa­nies have slowed their hir­ing from last year but are adding jobs quickly enough to lower the un­em­ploy­ment rate over time. The econ­omy gained 161,000 jobs in Oc­to­ber and the un­em­ploy­ment rate fell to 4.9 per­cent.

KEY DRIV­ERS >> The econ­omy is show­ing signs of ac­cel­er­a­tion af­ter slug­gish growth ear­lier this year. Growth was just 1.1 per­cent in the first half of 2016, but rose to a 2.9 per­cent pace in the July-Septem­ber quar­ter.

Amer­i­cans ramped up their shop­ping in the past two months and a sep­a­rate re­port Thurs­day showed that home con­struc­tion soared in Oc­to­ber.

Those trends should boost growth in the fi­nal three months of the year to roughly a 2.5 per­cent an­nual pace. Still, growth will likely come in below 2 per­cent for the full year.

The num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing U.S. un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits fell to the low­est level since 1973 last week, ev­i­dence that busi­nesses are con­fi­dent enough in the econ­omy to hold onto their work­ers.

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