Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall

Those Americans filing claims for regular unemployment benefits numbered fewer than the week before.

Information released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department showed the number at 234,000. First-time claims for state unemployment benefits were expected to total 221,000 in the seven days leading up to February 2, down from the 253,000 claims reported for the previous week.

The more stable monthly average of new claims, meanwhile, rose by 4,500 to a two-month high of 224,750. They are still near historically low levels, however.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, dropped by 42,000 to 1.74 million. They stood at 1.91 million a year earlier.

New claims stateside have gone from a 50-year low of 200,000, for instance, to a 16-month high of 253,000 in a span of just two weeks.

Economists say to ignore the noise: Layoffs are still very low and the labor market is strong by virtually every measure.