The US job market tightened further last week, with jobless claims reaching their lowest level since the start of the year, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 214,000 for the week ending March 12, better than the Dow Jones estimate of 220,000 and a drop of 15,000 from the previous week.
The total was the lowest since January. 1 and marked another sign that the market and its 3.8% unemployment rate were approaching full employment.
The four-week moving average, which takes into account the weekly volatility of the numbers, also dropped, dropping from 8,750 to 223,000.
Continuing inquiries, which are one week behind the main numbers, dropped 71,000 to 1.42 million, the lowest level since February 20. 21, 1970.
In other business news, housing starts were 1.77 million, more than the estimated 1.7 million. Building permits were 1.86 million, slightly above the 1.85 million estimate.
In addition, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing activity indicator in the region jumped to 27.4 in March, much better than the 15 estimate. The number represents the difference between firms seeing expansion versus contraction.
For the employment situation, the employment situation remains complicated.
Despite the strong pace of hiring in recent months, there are nearly 5 million more jobs than are available. This coincided with a sharp rise in wages and helped push inflation levels to the highest level since the early 1980s.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday described the job situation as “squeezed to an unhealthy level” as the central bank enacted its first interest rate hike in more than three years. Fed officials have indicated they see the equivalent of six more hikes through 2022 and three more next year to control prices.
The Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing reading reflects the intense inflationary pressures companies are facing.
The price paid component of the index reached 81 in March, the highest reading going back to June 1979 as 87.2% of respondents reported increases in input prices, versus just 6.2% who saw declines. . The received price index rose by 5 points to 54.4. The employment index rose nearly 7 points to 38.9.
When it comes to housing, builders have struggled to keep up with the high demand for supplies of materials and labor due to the employment gap.
The February numbers represented a 6.8% increase from a month ago and a 22.3% increase for start-ups compared to the same period in 2021. For permits, the monthly number fell by 1.9 % compared to January but increased by 7.7% compared to a year ago.
Correction: The price index received by the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia increased by 5 points to 54.4. An earlier version incorrectly indicated the figures.