Jobless Claims Fall to Near Six-Month Low of 232,000

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to near a six-month low last week, pointing to a further tightening in the labor market that could encourage the Federal Reserve to lay out a plan to start unwinding its massive bond portfolio.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 232,000 for the week ended Aug. 12, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

That was the lowest level since the week ended Feb. 25 when claims fell to 227,000, which was the best reading since March 1973. Data for the prior week was unrevised.

It was the 128th week that claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with a robust labor market. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller. The unemployment rate is 4.3 percent.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dropping to 240,000 in the latest

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