(Bloomberg) — Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to near the lowest level since the 1970s, consistent with a still-improving labor market, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington.

Key points

  • Jobless claims declined by 15,000 to 234,000 (forecast was 252,000) in the week ended Jan. 14
  • Previous week’s claims revised to 249,000 from 247,000
  • Continuing claims dropped by 47,000 to 2.05 million in the week ended Jan. 7
  • Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits, also reported with a one-week lag, was unchanged at 1.5%

Big picture
Workers, especially those with experience, are become harder to find as the labor market tightens, making employers reluctant to fire staff members amid steady economic growth.

Jobless claims have remained below 300,000 for 98 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1970 and a threshold economists say is indicative of a healthy labor market.

The Details

  • Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, declined to 246,750, the lowest since 1973, from 257,000 in the prior week
  • Five states had estimated claims last week: Georgia, Hawaii, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin
  • There was nothing unusual in the broader data, according to the Labor Department.

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