Falling US jobless claims add to signs of labour tightness

US unemployment claims declined for the third straight week.
US unemployment claims declined for the third straight week.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - The US labour market continues to show signs of tightening, with unemployment claims declining for the third straight week and benefit rolls matching the lowest level since 1973, Labor Department data showed Thursday.

Initial benefit filings decreased by 4,000 to 232,000, the lowest since late February. Continuing claims fell by 22,000 to 1.898 million in week ended May 6. Four-week average of initial claims declined to 240,750 from 243,500 in the prior week

Hiring managers remain more occupied with finding workers than trimming staff, with the headline jobless rate drifting below the Federal Reserve's estimate of full employment.

Benefit claims have been a particularly durable indicator of tightness in the labor market, with initial filings holding at lower than 300,000 for more than two years.

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The gauge contributes to Fed policy makers' case that the economy can withstand further increases in the benchmark interest rate this year.

Previous week's initial claims were unrevised.