Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Fall to 212,000

Union members picket outside a General Motors facility in Langhorne, Pa., Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked off General Motors factory floors or set up picket lines early Monday as contract talks with the company deteriorated into a strike. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Demand for U.S. workers remains extremely high despite sluggish economic growth around the world and an ailing manufacturing sector in the U.S.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 212,000 last week, according to data released by the Labor Department Thursday. The prior week was revised up to 218,000 from 214,000.

Economists had expected a slight rise from last week.

Jobless claims can be volatile week to week so many economists prefer to look at the four week moving average of claims. This fell last week to 215,000.

Continuing claims, those made after the initial week of benefits, fell by 1,000 to 1.682 million for the week ended October 12. Continuing claims are reported with a week delay.

Striking General Motors workers cannot claim unemployment benefits. But the strike was expected to raise claims by workers laid off at suppliers to the automaker while the assembly plants are shuttered. The low number of new claims suggests that employers are hanging on to workers, perhaps because very low levels of unemployment indicates that hiring workers when demand for parts returns will be costly.

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