US jobless claims drop as strong jobs rebound

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US jobless claims drop as strong jobs rebound

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, as layoffs continue to fall amid a strong job market rebound.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the unemployment rate fell by 15,000 to 214,000 for the week ending March 12, down from the previous week's 229,000. First-time applications for jobless aid generally track the pace of layoffs.

The four-week average for claims, which compensates for weekly volatility, fell to 223,000 from the previous week s 231,750.

The week ended March 5, 1,419, 000 Americans — a 50 year low — were collecting unemployment aid, a decline of 71,000 from the week before that.

The government reported earlier this month that employers added 678,000 jobs in February, the largest monthly total since July. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.8%, from 4% in January, extending a decline in joblessness to its lowest level since before the epidemic erupted two years ago.

In January, US businesses posted a near-record number of open jobs - 11.3 million - a trend that has helped pad workers pay and added to inflationary pressures.

The Federal ReserveFederal Reserve has raised its benchmark short-term interest rate and signaled up to six additional rate hikes this year in a high-risk effort Wednesday to tame the worst inflation since the early 1980s.

The Fed's quarter-point hike in its key rate, which it had pinned near zero since the pandemic hit two years ago, marks the beginning of its effort to curb the high inflation that followed the recovery from the recession. The rate hikes will lead to higher loan rates for consumers and businesses.

According to quarterly projections released Wednesday, the central bank s policymakers expect inflation to remain elevated, ending at 4.3% at the end of 2022.

The consumer inflation went up 7.9% over the past year, the highest level since 1982, according to the government.