U.S. Jobless Claims Climb More than Expected

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits grew more than expected last week, suggesting that claims processing disrupted by recent hurricanes has begun to improve.

Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 239,000 for the week ended Nov. 4. Claims had fallen to 229,000 in the prior week, near a 44-1/2-year low, and remain well below the 300,000 level generally regarded as signaling a healthy labour market south of the border.

Economists had forecast claims rising to 231,000 in the latest week. They have declined from an almost three-year high of 298,000 hit at the start of September in the aftermath of hurricanes that ravaged parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 1,250, to 231,250 last week, the lowest level since March 31, 1973. That suggests ongoing job growth in a U.S. economy many consider near full employment.