Applications for US jobless aid fell to 3-month low of 232K

Applications for US jobless aid fell to 3-month low of 232K

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the USA, fell 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 232,000 in the week ended May 13, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Claims have been below 240,000 for the past 3 weeks and the sustained low level of initial claims continues to indicate that layoffs are running at very low levels. That's the lowest level in almost three months. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller.

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits fell to 1.9 million, the lowest level since 1988.

The total number of people seeking unemployment insurance also to fell to its lowest level in nearly 30 years, in line with the record low unemployment rate.

To get out ahead of possible inflation, the Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rates twice since December and forecasts another two increases this year.

The decline in continuing claims is also important evidence that the labour market is continuing to strengthen as discouraged workers are able to re-enter the labour market.

Financial markets are pricing in a roughly 69 percent chance of a 25-basis-point hike at the Fed's June meeting, down from 78.5 percent on Tuesday, according to CME Group's FedWatch program. Stocks on Wall Street were slightly higher after Wednesday's sell-off.

It was buoyed by a surge in the shipments sub-index. The Fed increased the borrowing cost to a target range of 0.75 percent to 1 percent in March.

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