A significant drop in the weekly U.S. jobless claims on Thursday likely signals another blowout month for job creation, despite the prolonged government shutdown, according to Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s chief economic adviser.
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“It suggests very strongly that the jobs report for January will be up,” said Kudlow during a Fox News interview. “And it may be up a significant amount.”
The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits plummeted last week to 199,000 -- a nearly 50-year low. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 13,000 to 199,000. Economists polled by Reuters anticipated claims would actually rise to 222,000.
“This is the first time since, get this, November 1969 that initial unemployment claims have fallen below 200,000,” Kudlow said.
Kudlow said the lower-than-expected number is indicative of a “very strong” economy.
It also seems to suggest that the 34-day partial government shutdown, which has furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal workers, is having a limited impact so far on the claims data. According to Reuters, the number of federal workers filing for jobless claims rose in the week ending on Jan. 12 from 14,965 to 25,419.
Initially, the White House was bracing for a potentially negative jobs number in January when the Department of Labor releases the payroll data on Feb. 1. However, U.S. labor officials said this week they still plan to count the workers as employed because they’ll be getting paid retroactively once the government is up and running again.