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U.S initial jobless claims fall to under 200,000 for first time since May

A man looks at a hiring sign reading 'Join our team' displayed on a Chipotle restaurant window in a strip mall in Los Angeles on May 11. The Labor Department said first-time unemployment claims fell to 193,000 last week. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE
A man looks at a hiring sign reading 'Join our team' displayed on a Chipotle restaurant window in a strip mall in Los Angeles on May 11. The Labor Department said first-time unemployment claims fell to 193,000 last week. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE

Sept. 29 (UPI) -- People filing unemployment claims for the first time fell 16,000 to 193,000 last week, the first time that number dropped under 200,000 since May, according to the latest figures from the Labor Department on Thursday.

The unemployment insurance filings, one of the gauges used to judge the health of the jobs market, dipped to their lowest level since April 23 when 181,000 signed up for initial claims. First-time filings had been over 200,000 applicants weekly since April 30, when 202,000 asked for assistance.

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The filings for the week ending Sept. 24 broke a streak of 19 straight weeks where 200,000 or more filed for initial jobless benefits.

The four-week moving average for first-time jobless benefits fell to 207,000, a decrease of 8,750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was scaled down by 1,000 to 215,750.

The overall number of people claiming unemployment benefits for the week ending on Sept. 17 was 1.347 million, a drop of 29,000 from the previous week. The previous week's level was revised down by 3,000 to 1.376 million.

While the drop in claims is good news in some respects for the economy, it comes as the Federal Reserve continues to slow it down because of inflation woes.

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Last week, the Fed raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.75 percentage points to fight the highest inflation in 40 years. The move jumped the federal funds rate to the range of 3% to 3.25% after it remained near zero as recently as March.

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