The number of people filing for state unemployment benefits dropped to a two-and-a-half-year low last week, the Labor Department said in a report that indicated the U.S. labor market is gradually strengthening.
For the week ending Feb. 5, the department said jobless claims dropped to 383,000. The previous week, claims stood at 419,000.
The four-week average of new unemployment claims – a better gauge of labor market trends – decreased by 16,000 to 415,500 from the previous week's average of 431,500.
By The Numbers: JOC-ECRI Industrial Price Index
The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid declined 47,000 to 3.89 million in the week ended Jan. 29 from an upwardly revised 3.94 million the prior week.
The number of people on emergency unemployment benefits increased 100,366 to 3.76 million in the week ended Jan. 22, the latest week for which data is available. A total of 9.4 million people were claiming unemployment benefits during that period under all programs.
The data followed last week’s government report showing the economy added only 36,000 jobs in January, a number that economists say probably reflected winter weather that idled construction and other workers during the Jan. 12 week the monthly survey was conducted. The national unemployment rate, compiled from a different survey, declined to 9 percent last month from 9.4 percent in December.
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