The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell more than expected, pointing to still strong labor market conditions.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 221,000 for the recently weekly reporting, according to the Labor Department.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 225,000 in the latest week. Claims have been drifting in the middle of their 200,000-253,000 range this year.
News of this had the Federal Reserve hold interest rates steady with its policymakers abandoned projections for further rate increases this year, noting that “the labor market remains strong, but growth of economic activity has slowed from its solid rate in the fourth quarter.”
The unemployment rate is 3.8 percent and annual wage growth in February was the strongest since 2009.
Average job growth has moderated, reflecting a shortage of workers and softening economic growth as the stimulus from a $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades as a trade war between the United States and China, as well as slowing global growth and uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union, are also hurting domestic economic activity.
By Jamie Barrie