Despite heightened trade tensions and global growth weighing on the U.S. manufacturing sector, jobless claims fell last week, indicating ongoing strength in the labor market.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 210,00, the Labor Department said Thursday. The previous week’s claims figure was revised up by 1,000 to 220,000.
Economists had expected claims to remain flat with the previously reported 219,000.
Jobless claims can be volatile week-to-week. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out that volatility, rose by 1,000 to 213,740. That is considered a very low number.
Because jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs, they have been closely watched for signs that economic conditions–including tariffs, the UAW General Motors strike, or the contraction in the manufacturing sector–are costing jobs for American workers. The low levels of claims, as well as very low unemployment, indicates that U.S. businesses are reluctant to let workers go despite some strains.
Jobless claims can also weigh on consumer spending, causing consumers to pull back when they rise. The low and falling jobless claims is likely to support consumer spending, a crucial element of economic growth.