Low U.S. jobless claims underscore labor market strength

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting the labor market remains on solid footing despite slowing economic growth and a stock market rout.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 269,000 for the week ended Feb. 6, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists had forecast claims falling to only 281,000 in the latest week. The drop pushed down claims to near their post-recession lows around 256,000, pointing to very low layoffs even as the domestic economic outlook becomes increasingly uncertain. “The economy might be sailing into a storm, the financial markets say, but if so, the U.S. economy is in a very strong position to weather whatever comes, with the labor market the strongest in decades,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York.

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