The number of initial jobless claims unexpectedly dropped by 17,000 in the beginning of the new year. The figure has dropped to 216,000 from the previously expected 233,000, creating the perception of a strong US economy. The drop in jobless claims comes as the US Labor Department reports an increase in both wages and jobs created across the United States in December. The news points to a strengthening labor market, which may help calm concerns over the general state of the economy. Jobless claims had gone up in the last week of December as the government shutdown left over 800,000 employees either on temporary leave or working without pay.
While federal employee jobless claims have gone up amid the government shutdown, the data points to a healthier labor market. The government reported an increase of 312,000 jobs in September, while unemployment rose 0.2% to 3.9%. September also saw the lowest number of jobless claims since 1969 at 202,000. Furthermore, the US labor market is now only 14,000 fewer jobless claims away from beating the historical record set in 1969.
The recent signs of strength from the labor market have helped ease concerns over declines in manufacturing. As the government shutdown comes to a close, labor indicators are expected to improve further.