An estimated 166,000 Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, down nearly 5,000 claims from the previous week and better than analyst projections of 200,000. It is the lowest figure since November 1968 (and the second-lowest since weekly reporting began in January 1967). Continuing claims rose slightly by 17,000 to 1.52 million, coming two years after the number of claims reached an all-time high of 6.1 million in April 2020.
The decline shows employers are limiting layoffs in a tight labor market. Roughly 1.8 job openings are available for every unemployed worker; the unemployment rate stood at 3.6% in March, just above the prepandemic level of 3.5%. Nearly 4.4 million workers left their jobs in February, a number that has held steady as employers try to fill job openings.
The figure represents the third consecutive week that new claims fell below 200,000.