New Unemployment Claims Drop to Fresh 52-Year Low

What Thursday’s Economic Reports Tell Us

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Initial unemployment claims dropped to a fresh low since 1969 last week, while orders for durable goods fell for the first time in five months, reports showed Thursday.

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

Initial Jobless Claims

  • Last week 187,000 people filed new unemployment claims, 28,000 fewer than the previous week and a new low for any week since September 1969, the Department of Labor said. (In December, new claims fell to 188,000 one week—also the lowest since September 1969.) Economists had expected 210,000 new filings.
  • A proxy for layoffs, weekly unemployment filings returned to pre-pandemic levels in the 200,000 range late last year as the job market recovered, though they did dip below that a couple of times. The latest drop shows businesses are very reluctant to lay off workers because they’re having a hard time hiring these days, economists said.

Durable Goods Orders 

  • Orders for durable goods—things like planes, machinery, and computers—fell 2.2% in February, the first drop in five months, the Census Bureau said. The falloff—more than double what economists had forecast—was largely due to a 30% drop in orders for civilian aircraft and parts, a category that tends to yo-yo up and down. Still, excluding transportation-related orders, it was the first decline in a year. 
  • While some economists noted the decline could be a sign of problems in the supply chain or decreasing demand, others said to take it with a grain of salt. Orders in February were still 10.3% higher than a year earlier, showing businesses are still investing heavily in new equipment. 

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