Applications for unemployment benefits took a big drop last week, according to the latest numbers from the Labor Department.
The new report shows a drop of 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 283,000. A look at the more reliable four-week average shows a drop of 6,500 to 289,750, the lowest level in nearly four months.
Economic forecasters predicted claims at around 290,000, but still below the 300,000 number that would indicate a slowdown in jobs growth.
Jobs growth has been on a roll, with more than 1,000,000 jobs created between November and January, it’s the most positive three-month run in 17 years.
Wages are still lagging and while the unemployment rate has dropped nearly a full percent over the last 12 months, economists say there is still room for things to tighten up.
More than 3.2 million jobs have been created in the last year, knocking the unemployment rate down to 5.7%.
But Federal Reserve policymakers say even at that number, there’s a lot of room to grow. And with that analysis, said it would continue to hold off on a raise of the short-term interest rate.