In an unexpected move, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits declined last week, signaling a positive sign for the nation’s job market and future economic outlook.
While the economy has struggled this year with gaining momentum after first quarter results were less than enthusiastic, the recent unemployment data showcases a more satisfied market.
For the week ended May 9, unemployment claims fell by 1,000, to 264,000, according to a report from the U.S. Labor Department on May 14. This figure nears a two-week old record of the lowest unemployment claims in 15 years, CNBC reported.
Another indicator of the volatility of the market is by analyzing the four-week average of claims, which fell 7,750 last week to 271,750, the lowest levels since April 2000.
The unemployment rate has also fallen to a seven-year low of 5.4 percent, with payrolls increasing by 223,000 in the month of April.
One negative factor was the amount of Americans receiving government assistance remaining unchanged, at 2.23 million citizens in the week ended May 2.
The Federal Reserve, which is still continuing the practice of near zero interest rates, is currently looking at these figures to best decide when to raise the interest rate. After a disappointing first quarter, officials believe the second and third quarters will be much better off, as severe winter weather was to blame for the economic shortcomings at the beginning of the year.
“The fundamentals are sound. The underlying momentum in job growth remains solid,” John Williams, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President, said during a speech in New York on May 12.
In other economic news, the U.S. dollar fell to a three-year low against the Euro on May 13, largely due to the Fed’s unchanging interest rate policy.
“There is no denying the performance of the U.S. economy is falling well short of expectations,” Lee Hardman, an economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, said to Fox Business.
While the Dow Jones Industrial Average remains at record highs, the price of oil continues to climb, as well. Brent crude opened at $67.49 on Thursday, a 0.3% increase.