Second Straight Decline for Jobless Claims Stateside

Figures released Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, dropping for a second straight week as labour market conditions tightened further.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 238,000 for the week ended Nov. 25, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists had forecast claims edging up to 240,000 in the latest week. The data included last Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday. Claims tend be volatile around shifting holidays.

Last week marked the 143rd consecutive week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, associated with a strong labour market, and the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labour market down south was smaller.

The labour market in the U.S. is near full employment, with the jobless rate at a 17-year low of 4.1%. A department official said claims-taking procedures continued to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands, whose infrastructure was destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 2,250 to 242,250 last week.