Jobless Claims Haven’t Been Lower in a Half Century

What Thursday’s Economic Reports Tell Us

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The number of people filing for unemployment hasn’t been lower since 1968, and Americans racked up more debt in February than in any month since 2010, reports showed Thursday.

Here’s a quick look at the most significant economic indicators of the day and what they tell us.

Unemployment Claims

  • The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment benefits haven’t been lower since 1968. There were 166,000 new claims last week, the fewest for any week (other than two weeks ago when it was also 166,000) since November 1968. The department also said it changed the way it removes seasonal variations, making for revisions to current and historical data.
  • The ultra-low number is the latest in a series of indicators showing jobs are plentiful and many employers are desperate to hire and keep workers, economists said. 

Consumer Credit

  • Consumers racked up more debt in February than in any month since 2010. They added more long-term loans for cars, education, and other things, but they really ratcheted up their use of credit cards, data from the Federal Reserve showed. 
  • The Fed’s measure of “revolving” debt, which is mostly made up of credit card debt, grew at an annualized rate of 20.7% to $1.06 trillion, while non-revolving debt like car loans grew at a rate of 8.4% to $3.42 trillion. The $41.9 billion increase in total debt was far more than the $15 billion economists had predicted.
  • The jump in borrowing reflected how much more people were willing to get out and spend as the omicron wave of COVID-19 receded, Shandor Whitcher, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in a commentary. 

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Article Sources

  1. Department of Labor. “News Release.”

  2. Federal Reserve.”Consumer Credit.”