The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by more than expected last week
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 207,000 for the week ended Sept. 29, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Hurricane Florence, which hit North Carolina and South Carolina last month, affected claims, according to the Labor Department. The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 22 was in North Carolina. Claims in South Caroline rose by 2,830, the third largest rise behind Kentucky.
Economists had forecast claims falling by 1,000 to 213,000 in the latest week. A year ago there were 265,000 new claims.
Claims were new the recent low of 202,000, hit during the week ended September 15. That was the lowest level since November 1969.
The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 214,000 to 215,000. The 4-week moving average, considered a more reliable gauge of the labor market because it smoothes out week to week volatility, rose to 207,000, an increase of 500 from the previous week’s revised average.
The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 13,000 to 1.65 million for the week ended Sept. 22. Continuing claims are reported with a week delay. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell by 15,250 to 1.66 million, the lowest level since October 1973.
Jobless claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have been closely watched for signs that trade disputes would be a drag on the labor market. Earlier this year, economists predicted that the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration would cost 400,000 jobs. That prediction now looks way too pessimistic.
The jobless claims data has no impact on the monthly employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday. Bloomberg’s survey of economists sees nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 18o,000 in September after rising 201,000 in August. The unemployment rate is expected to fall one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.8 percent, an 18-year low first hit in May.