Americans Receiving Unemployment Benefits Hits 45-Year Low


In April, the unemployment rate hit 3.9 percent for the first time since 2000. From CNBC reporting monthly jobless claims for April:

New applications for U.S. jobless benefits increased less than expected last week and the number of Americans receiving unemployment aid fell to its lowest level since 1973, pointing to tightening labor market conditions.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 211,000 for the week ended April 28, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims dropped to 209,000 in the prior week, which was the lowest level since December 1969.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 225,000 in the latest week. The labor market is considered to be near or at full employment. ...

The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 77,000 to 1.76 million in the week ended April 21, the lowest level since December 1973. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims fell 15,500 to 1.83 million, also the lowest level since December 1973.

Things to watch:

— Labor Participation Rate, which is still too low at 62.8 percent, and dropping. That means the number of people who should be in the workforce but aren't are still hanging out on the sidelines. Indeed 410,000 more people decided to take a pass on working this month.

— The Federal Reserve and interest rates. Growth is steady, and wages are up, but the economy isn't heating like pavement in the summertime. That means inflationary pressures are in check, but productivity isn't all that remarkable. Sidebar, looking over the long-term, prices on consumer products are not rising in a way to suggest people aren't able to get a good deal on big- and small-ticket items they regularly buy. Thank innovation for that.

— How your community is doing. Success is scattered, and hitting certain regions of the country more than others. Likewise some industries are doing better than others, with professional and business services, health and education jobs, leisure, and construction leading the way.