The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell below the 49-year low. The US labor market remains strong, and this should alleviate concerns about a sharp slowdown in economic growth. Recall that the leading global economy now faces several obstacles at once, including the partial closure of the federal government, which is beginning to undermine consumer and business confidence.
Primary claims for unemployment benefits fell by 13,000, to 199,000 applications for the week ending January 19. This is the lowest level since mid-November 1969 when 197,000 complaints were registered, the Ministry of Labor reported. However, most experts predicted an increase in the number of applications to 220,000. The four-week figure fell by 5,500, to 215,000 calls. This helped the dollar stay at the top of the basket of major currencies. There are fears that the longest government closure in history will push unemployment above 4 percent in January. In December, the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent. The number of people receiving benefits on a regular basis decreased by 24,000, to 1.71 million for the week ending January 12.
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