Claims for U.S. Jobless Benefits Fall to 1-Mo. Low

Figures released Thursday morning show the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to more than a one-month low last week as claims in Texas and Florida continued to decline after being boosted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The U.S. Labor Department says initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 15,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 243,000 for the week ended Oct. 7, the lowest level since late August. Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.

A department official said Harvey and Irma along with Hurricane Maria affected claims for Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In addition, claims for Virginia were estimated.

Economists had forecast claims falling to 251,000 in the latest week. Claims have been declining since surging to an almost three-year high of 298,000 at the start of September as workers displaced by the hurricanes were left temporarily unemployed.

As a result of Harvey and Irma, non-farm payrolls dropped by 33,000 jobs last month, the first decrease in employment in seven years. A rebound in job growth is expected in October, boosted by the return of the dislocated workers as well as the start of rebuilding and cleanup efforts in storm-ravaged areas.

Underscoring the labour market’s underlying strength, claims have now been below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a robust labour market, for 136 straight weeks. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labour market was smaller.