During the week ending Feb. 13, initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 7,000 to 262,000, the lowest figure since November 2015, Time magazine reported. Economists predicted that 275,000 claims would be filed.
The week marked 50 consecutive weeks of claims being below 300,000, which is the longest streak since the early 1970s, noted Reuters.
Data was also released that showed that mid-Atlantic factory activity decreased at a slower rate in February and had a rise in shipments, reported Time, suggesting that the manufacturing sector may be strengthening.
The falling number of claims is likely to cause the Federal Reserve to re-evaluate raising interest rates in March, according to the source. The Fed had nearly abandoned the idea of raising rates because of growing concerns about the U.S. and global markets.
“The economy is better than the markets think. We wouldn’t rule out another rate hike at the March meeting as financial market turbulence fades away and the economic outlook remains positive,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank, in an interview with Reuters.