The number of weekly jobless claims for unemployment benefits, which measures the number of Americans applying for the first-time, unexpectedly fell last week.
First-time claims for state unemployment benefits dipped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000 for the week ended Dec. 13, according to a report released by the Labor Department Thursday.
The report came a day after the Federal Reserve’s policy making committee — the Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), announced they’ve decided to keep the vague phrase “considerable time” as their benchmark for keeping interest rates next to zero. Wall Street jumped after the announcement, as news of fast and loose money giving investors more opportunity to inflate equity prices send indexes higher.
Meanwhile, economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims increasing to 295,000 last week, but the prior week’s data was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. These kind of revisions have become a trend, as the initial reports overestimate the labor market improvements.
Still, the four-week moving average of claims, which is considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fall by a slight 750 to 298,750.
Last week’s data covered the period during which the government surveyed employers for December’s nonfarm payrolls. The four-week average of claims rose by 11,000 between the November and December survey periods, suggesting a step back in job growth after payrolls surged by 321,000 last month. However, December payrolls are still expected to come in above 200,000.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week’s claims data.
The report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell by 147,000 to 2.37 million in the week ended Dec. 6.