New weekly jobless claims fell to 709,000 in the week ended November 7, the Department of Labor said Thursday.
Economists had expected jobless claims to decline to 737,000 from the 751,000 initially reported a week ago. That week’s number was revised up to 757,000.
The 4-week moving average fell to 755,250, a decrease of 33,250 from the previous week’s revised average. Many economists think this is a better measure of the labor market than the weekly number, which can be volatile.
Despite the decline, jobless claims—which are a proxy for layoffs—remain at extremely high levels. Prior to the pandemic, the highest level of claims was 695,000 hit in October of 1982. In March of 2009, jobless claims peaked at 665,000.
Claims hit a record 6.87 million for the week of March 27. Through spring and early summer, each subsequent week had seen claims decline. But in late July, the labor market appeared to stall and claims hovered around one million throughout August, a level so high it was never recorded before the pandemic struck. Claims moved down again in September and have made slow, if steady, progress since.
Continuing claims, those made after the initial filing for benefits, fell to 6,786,000, a decrease of 436,000 from the previous week’s revised level. These get reported with a week’s lag so this number is for the week ended October 31.
Prior to the pandemic, the highest level of continuing claims was 6.6 million in June of 2009.