The number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment benefits fell to near a 49-year low last week, as the labor market continues to show strength.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 203,000 for the week ending Sept. 1, a drop of 10,000 from the previous week, the lowest level since December 1969, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
The four-week moving average, which is a better indicator of where the job market is headed, was 209,500, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week, the lowest level for this average since Dec. 6, 1969, when it was 204,500.
The economy, which grew at a robust 4.2 percent pace in the April through June quarter, is chugging along despite headwinds from President Trump‘s trade policies. Trump has applied steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and duties on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
A separate report released on Thursday showed private-sector businesses added 163,000 jobs, the fewest since Oct. 2017.
But the job market appears strong along with the unemployment rate expected to fall to the mid-3 percent range.
“The job market is hot,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, who oversees the ADP data.
“Employers are aggressively competing to hold onto their existing workers and to find new ones. Small businesses are struggling the most in this competition, as they increasingly can’t fill open positions,” he added.
The government is set to release the August jobs report on Friday with expectations that around 200,000 jobs were created last month.