The numbers: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits at the end of January fell to a nine-month low of 183,000, signaling the U.S. labor market is still going strong despite more reports of corporate layoffs.
New applications slipped 186,000 in the prior week, the government said Thursday.
Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast new claims would total 195,000 in the seven days ending Jan 28. The figures are seasonally adjusted.
The number of people applying for jobless benefits is one of the best barometers of whether the economy is getting better or worse. New unemployment filings are still historically low, but not quite as low as they were last spring.
Big picture: Jobless claims are one of the first indicators to deteriorate when the economy is headed toward a recession, but right now they suggest the economy is still doing OK.
The economy could slow and more businesses could start laying off workers, analysts warn, as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to squash high inflation. The Fed on Wednesday raised rates again.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
were set to open mixed in Thursday trades.