U.S. Jobless Claims Down, Though Harvey Skews Figures

Figures released Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, but the data continued to be influenced by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, muddying the labour market picture south of the border in the near term.

The Labor Department reported that initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000 for the week ended Sept. 16. Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 fewer applications than previously reported.

A department official said Harvey and Irma affected claims for Texas and Florida. Unadjusted claims for Texas fell in number 23,549 last week, the second straight weekly drop.

Claims in Texas surged in the wake of Harvey, which disrupted oil, natural gas and petrochemical production, leaving some workers temporarily unemployed.

Unadjusted claims for Florida rose 5,133 last week. In addition, the department estimated claims for South Carolina and the Virgin Islands last week.

Economists had forecast claims rising to 300,000 in the latest week. It was the 133rd straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a robust labour market in the United States.