Unemployment Benefits in U.S. Dip 2K Last Week

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, providing more signs of the health of the labour market.

Figures released by the U.S. Labor Department said applications for jobless benefits dipped by 2,000 to 241,000 after claims had risen by 20,000 in the previous week. Two weeks ago, such claims had fallen to a 44-year low of 223,000. The four-week average, which is less volatile, rose by 750 last week to 237,250.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have now come in below 300,000 for 106 weeks, the longest such streak since 1970. The low level of claims suggests employers have enough confidence in the economy that they see no need to shed staff.

Overall, just over two million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, 8.2% fewer than a year ago.