U.S. Jobless Claims Hit Five Week-Low Despite Shutdown

Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell to a five-week low, even amid a partial federal government shutdown.

Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department showed jobless claims declined by 3,000 to 213,000 in the week ended Jan. 12, below economist forecasts. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, declined to 220,750.

The latest decline in claims, which remain near a historically low level, is in line with a tight labour market as indicated in the monthly jobs report for December. At the same time, the partial federal-government shutdown--which affects one-quarter of agencies and is now the longest in U.S. history--is likely to cause some filings to increase in coming weeks.

Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, increased to 1.737 million in the week ended Jan. 5.

The previous week’s filings were unrevised at 216,000.