WASHINGTON—New applications for U.S. unemployment fell slightly last week and the number of Americans receiving benefits remained at a 45-year low as strong labor market conditions continued.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 214,000 for the week ended Nov. 3, the Labor Department said on Nov.8. Data for the prior week was revised to show 215,000 claims received, which was 1,000 more than previously reported.
The weekly claims were in line with predictions of economists polled by Reuters, who had forecast 214,000 people would file for benefits. The Labor Department said claims for North Carolina continued to be affected by Hurricane Florence, while Hurricane Michael impacted those for Florida and Georgia. Claims data for Massachusetts was estimated.
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 to 213,750 in the latest week, a decline of 250 from the prior week’s upwardly revised reading of 214,000.
The Nov. 8 claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 8,000 to 1.62 million for the week ended Oct. 27, the lowest level since July 28, 1973. The four-week moving average of the so-called
continuing claims fell 7,500 to 1.63 million, the lowest level since Aug. 11, 1973.
Ongoing strong job growth has led to a 3.7 percent unemployment rate, the lowest since the 1960s and a level below Federal Reserve policymakers’ current median estimate of “full employment.”
By Howard Schneider