U.S. applications for jobless benefits fall to lowest level in 3 months

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits inched down to its lowest level in three months last week as the U.S. labor market continues to flex its muscle in spite of elevated interest rates.

Jobless claim applications fell to 202,000 for the week ending Jan. 6, down by 1,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported today. The four-week average of claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week volatility, ticked down by 250 to 207,750.

Overall, 1.83 million Americans were collecting jobless benefits during the week that ended Dec. 30, a decline of 34,000 from the previous week.

Weekly unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained at extraordinarily low levels in the face of high interest rates and elevated inflation.