US Weekly Jobless Claims Drop Sharply; GDP Growth Higher

November 27, 2019 Updated: November 27, 2019

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits fell sharply in the week before Thanksgiving, according to statistics provided by the Labor Department.

Meanwhile, in a separate report, U.S. economic growth picked up in the third quarter at a higher pace than was initially reported by the Commerce Department.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 213,000 for the week ending on Nov. 23, the agency said on Nov. 27.

The report (pdf) was published a day early because of the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 28.

The prior week’s claims were revised up by 1,000 to around 228,000.

“In the week ending Nov. 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 213,000, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 227,000 to 228,000. The four-week moving average was 219,750, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 221,000 to 221,250,” the Labor Department stated in its report.

Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 221,000 from the 227,000 originally reported for the prior week, according to reports.

The Labor Department’s report noted that the “advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 16 was 1,640,000, a decrease of 57,000 from the previous week’s revised level,” noting that it is “the lowest level for insured unemployment since Aug. 4, 1973.”

On a daily basis, President Donald Trump notes his administration’s work to improve the U.S. economy and labor market, making it a centerpiece of his reelection campaign.

On Nov. 25, he retweeted a video that showed the stock market reaching record levels.

Third-Quarter GDP Growth More Than Expected

U.S. economic growth picked up slightly in the third quarter, rather than slowing as initially reported, and there are signs the downturn in business investment could be drawing to a close.

The economy’s prospects were further brightened by other data on Nov. 27, showing that the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week after being stuck at a five-month high for two straight weeks.

The reports were released in the wake of data showing an acceleration in housing market activity early in the fourth quarter and a sharp decline in the goods trade deficit, as well as a solid pace of inventory accumulation by retailers. The improvement in the economic data further diminished the risks of recession in the near term.

The Federal Reserve last month cut interest rates for the third time this year and signaled a pause in the easing cycle that started in July, when it reduced borrowing costs for the first time since 2008.

Gross domestic product increased at a 2.1 percent annualized rate, the Commerce Department said in its second estimate of third-quarter GDP. That was up from the 1.9 percent pace estimated last month. The economy grew at a 2.0 percent pace in the April–June period.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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