The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week as the labor market continued to tighten.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 254,000 for the week ended Dec. 10, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.
It was the 93rd straight week that claims were below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market. That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller. The labor market is viewed as being at or near full employment.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by 25 basis points to a range of 0.50 percent to 0.75 percent in a nod to tightening labor market conditions. The U.S. central bank, which forecast three rate hikes in 2017, said it expected that "the job conditions will strengthen somewhat further."
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless benefits falling to 255,000 in the latest week. Claims hit a 43-year low of 233,000 in mid-November before rising to a five-month high of 268,000 two weeks later.