US jobless claims plunge, private hiring up

Washington: US initial claims for unemployment insurance plunged in the final week of 2016, while private-sector firms hired at a slower pace in December, according to two reports on Thursday.
The new data gave a fairly upbeat picture of the labour market just a day before the release of the closely watched US jobs report. Jobless claims in the week ended December 31 dropped by 28,000 to 235,000, according to the weekly report from the Labour Department.
That was the year’s biggest drop, which put the level well below analyst expectations for 265,000 initial claims. Claims have been below 300,000 for 96 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1970.
The more stable four-week moving average slipped 5,750 to 256,750. The weekly data tend to be volatile, especially around year’s end.
In a separate report, the ADP payroll firm said American firms added 153,000 non-farm jobs in the final month of the year — below the consensus estimate for a 170,000 increase, but the gain was all in services.
Typically seen as a preview of the official monthly US employment data, the ADP report said goods-producing industries shed 16,000 jobs, including a 9,000-job decline in manufacturing, which saw declines in six months of 2016.
However, services hiring jumped 169,000, including 82,000 added in trade, transportation and utilities, and 29,000 in education and health.
The private sector generated an average of 174,000 jobs a month last year, down from 209,000 in 2015, ADP Research Institute chief Ahu Yildirmaz said.
However, “the US labour market has experienced unprecedented seven years of growth that has brought us to near full employment,” he said, . — AFP