U.S. jobless claims fall to more than one-month low
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[October 12, 2017]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The
number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to more than a
one-month low last week as claims in Texas and Florida continued to
decline after being boosted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 15,000 to a
seasonally adjusted 243,000 for the week ended Oct. 7, the lowest level
since late August, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the
prior week was revised to show 2,000 fewer applications received than
A Labor Department official said Harvey and Irma along with Hurricane
Maria affected claims for Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Puerto Rico
and the Virgin Islands. In addition, claims for Virginia were estimated.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 251,000 in
the latest week. Claims have been declining since surging to an almost
three-year high of 298,000 at the start of September as workers
displaced by the hurricanes were left temporarily unemployed.
As a result of Harvey and Irma, nonfarm payrolls dropped by 33,000 jobs
last month, the first decrease in employment in seven years. A rebound
in job growth is expected in October, boosted by the return of the
dislocated workers as well as the start of rebuilding and clean-up
efforts in storm-ravaged areas.
Underscoring the labor market's underlying strength, claims have now
been below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a robust
labor market, for 136 straight weeks. That is the longest such stretch
since 1970, when the labor market was smaller.
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Pedestrians pass a sign advertising a sale and a job opening at a
shop on Newbury Street in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., October 11,
2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
The labor market is near full employment, with the jobless rate at more than a
16-1/2-year low of 4.2 percent.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of
labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 9,500 to
257,500 last week.
The claims report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits
after an initial week of aid dropped 32,000 to 1.89 million in the week ended
Sept. 30, the lowest level since December 1973.
The so-called unadjusted continuing claims for Texas and Florida fell,
suggesting some of the workers affected by Harvey and Irma had returned to their
jobs. The unemployment rate among people receiving jobless benefits fell
one-tenth of a percentage point to 1.3 percent.
Overall continuing claims have now been below the 2 million mark for 26 straight
weeks, indicating that labor market slack continues to diminish. The four-week
moving average of continuing claims fell 11,500 to 1.93 million, remaining below
the 2 million level for the 24th consecutive week.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)
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