The numbers: The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since the summer of 1973, reinforcing a downward trend in layoffs that’s likely to continue to set fresh lows in the months ahead.
So-called continuing claims fell by 8,000 to 1.62 million at the end of October, marking the lowest level since July 28, 1973. These claims reflect people who recently lost their jobs and are already receiving benefits.
The number of people who applied to receive benefits, meanwhile, fell slightly in early November to remaining near the lowest level in decades.
Initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, dipped by 1,000 to 214,000 in the seven days ended Nov. 3, the government said Thursday. That was a bit higher than the 210,000 forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch.
The more stable monthly average of claims declined by 250 to 213,750.
What happened: The level of layoffs in the U.S. have been falling for years amid a sustained surge in hiring that’s pulled the unemployment rate down to a 48-year low of 3.7%.
Initial claims have been have been below 220,000 for four and a half months, a remarkably long stretch of extremely low layoffs.
Big picture: The strongest labor market in decades is powering a U.S. economy that’s likely to set a record for the longest expansion ever by next year. The shrinking pool of available labor is also forcing companies to pay higher wages and benefits to attract workers, a good thing for Americans after years of slow pay growth.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -2.32% rose slightly in Thursday trades, but the S&P 500 SPX, -1.97% traded lower. Stocks soared the day before in the wake of the 2018 elections that split power between Democrats and Republicans. The outcome suggests a divided Washington won’t be able to do much to help or hinder businesses in the next few years.
The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.00% continued to creep higher and sat near 3.22%, just short of a seven-year high. Yields have been rising in anticipation of higher U.S. interest rates.