Claims for unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to 216,000 in the February 16 week, essentially unwinding the uptick at the end of January related to the partial federal government shutdown, and past any noise generated by the episode of bitter cold weather in late January-early February. The week’s level is consistent with the underlying strong labor market with no sign of any significant deterioration in spite of some softer economic growth.
Three states — California, Hawaii, and Virginia — and Puerto Rico estimates claims in the week. Such estimates do not generally see much revision in the subsequent week.
Continuing claims were down 55,000 in the February 9 week to 1.725 million as workers temporarily laid off during the shutdown returned to their jobs. The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.2% for a 12th straight week, holding near record lows in a sustained fashion that is likely to promote entry and re-entry of marginalized workers into the labor market.
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