Number of people on unemployment welfare at 50-year low

By Tim Pearce

Filings for unemployment benefits in the U.S. last week fell to the lowest number in nearly five decades, further evidence of a tight labor market and expanding economy.

Roughly 203,000 people filed to receive unemployment welfare last week. In the week ending on Dec. 6, 1969, 202,000 people made an initial claim for unemployment, according to a Thursday report from the Department of Labor (DOL).

The four-week moving average for the number of claims – a less volatile and more reliable metric – hit 209,500, also the lowest average since 1969.

“Job openings are plentiful, and the competition for skilled workers is intensifying,” Plante Moran Financial Advisors chief investment officer Jim Baird toldThe Wall Street Journal. “Employers are remiss to trim their respective workforces, particularly in an environment in which attracting and retaining workers is tougher.”

Experts monitor weekly reports on Initial claims for unemployment to gauge the health of the overall economy. The weekly claims numbers tend to be skewed around holidays and short work weeks, such as with Labor Day.

The U.S. economy added jobs for the 94th straight month in July. The unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.9 percent.

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Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR

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