Weekly jobless claims lowest in 40 years

July 24, 2015

WASHINGTON (7/24/15)--In another indication of a job market on the upswing, the number of weekly initial jobless claims filed dropped to its lowest level since Nov. 24, 1973.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance, which indicate layoffs, dropped 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 255,000 in the week ended July 18, the Department of Labor reported.

The four-week moving average dropped to 278,500 from 282,500.

Claims, however, can be volatile this time of year because of the Fourth of July holiday and annual retooling at automotive manufacturers.

“Looking through the potential issues surrounding the auto plant retooling, initial claims are very low,” said Moody’s analyst Ryan Sweet ( July 23). “Not only is this attributable to businesses cutting fewer workers, but it also reflects improved confidence in the job market. The number of laid-off workers that apply for benefits falls as the average duration of unemployment declines.”

Sweet said, “In other words, the newly laid-off are increasingly confident that their unemployment spell will be short and don’t bother filing for unemployment insurance benefits.”

In the week ended July 11, continuing claims fell 9,000 to 2.207 million. The four-week moving average in continuing claims fell to 2.253 million from 2.264 million.

The insured unemployment rate was unchanged at 1.6%.

The Department of Labor also reported that in the second quarter the median weekly earnings of 108.8 million full-time salaried and wage workers were $801--2.7% higher than last year at this time.