Jobless claims decline for a third week in last four

Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits fell for a third week in the last four, showing a resilient labor market.

Jobless claims declined by 10,000 to 265,000 in the week ended Dec. 24 from a six-month high in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The number of applications matched the Bloomberg survey’s median forecast. Claims were estimated for nine states and Puerto Rico.

The data tend to fluctuate around the year-end holidays, while the trend reveals managers’ reluctance to fire workers as demand remains steady and the pool of available labor dwindles. Filings have been below 300,000 for 95 straight weeks — the longest streak since 1970 and a level economists say is typical for a healthy labor market.

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 250,000 to 275,000.

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While there was nothing unusual in the data, Ohio, Tennessee and Massachusetts were among states whose applications were estimated in the week leading up to the Christmas holiday, according to the Labor Department.

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 263,000 from 263,750 the prior week.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits climbed by 63,000 to 2.1 million in the week ended Dec. 17, the highest since Sept. 10. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.