The number of Americans who filed for unemployment insurance last week fell to its lowest level in eight months as the job market continued to show strength amid high interest rates.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that U.S. unemployment insurance claims fell by 20,000 to 201,000 in the week ended Sept. 16. This is the lowest number since the last week of January.
Unemployment claims are considered an indicator of the number of layoffs in a given week.
The four-week moving average of claims, a less volatile measure, fell 7,750 to 217,000.
Although the Federal Reserve decided not to change its key interest rate this week, it is now in the second year of its battle to end four decades of high inflation. The 11 rate hikes since March last year have helped slow price growth, but the U.S. economy and labor market have held up better than most expected.
Earlier this month, the government reported that American employers added 187,000 jobs in August. Although the unemployment rate rose to 3.8%, it is still low by historical standards.
The U.S. economy has added an average of about 236,000 new jobs per month this year, down from the pandemic surge of the previous two years but still a strong showing.
Latest government data also showed that job vacancies fell to 8.8 million in July, the lowest level since March 2021 and down from 9.2 million in June. However, these numbers are still unusually high considering that monthly job openings never exceeded 8 million before 2021.