Despite shutdown, Americans filing unemployment claims falls to 49-year low

Despite shutdown, Americans filing unemployment claims falls to 49-year low
Image: Shutterstock via LU Staff

[Ed. – Gosh, it’s so weird that private sector companies are flourishing and hiring tons of people while the stifling federal bureaucracy is idling and its army of non-essential personnel is furloughed. –John Hayward]

The number of people seeking jobless benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since November 1969, a sign the job market remains strong despite the partial government shutdown, now in its fifth week.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid declined 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 199,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, dropped 5,500 to 215,000.

The tally of furloughed federal employees requesting unemployment aid jumped to 25,419, more than double the previous week. Those figures are tracked in a separate category and aren’t included in the overall figures.

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Weekly applications for jobless aid are a proxy for layoffs. The data suggests employers are confident enough about the economy to hold onto their workers. The unemployment claims data is one of the few economic reports still being released by the government because the Labor Department was funded before the shutdown and is still open.

Many companies are desperate for workers to respond to solid customer demand, which makes them reluctant to cut staff, even if something like the shutdown disturbs their business.

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