Businesses may be growing more concerned about the coronavirus outbreak but they have not started laying off workers in anticipation of an economic slowdown.

Jobless claims fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000 for the week ended February 28. That was in line with expectations.

The four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility and is considered by many to be a more reliable indicator of economic conditions, rose to 213,000, an increase of 3,250 from the previous week.

Because jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs, this week’s number was highly anticipated as a possible indicator of whether the coronavirus has had any effect on the very strong labor market in the U.S. The low levels of claims, as well as very low unemployment, indicates that U.S. businesses are reluctant to let workers go. The tight labor market is likely to continue to support consumer spending, a crucial element of economic growth.


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