Jobless Benefit Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Fall

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits showed a surprising decline last week, indicating a still-tight jobs market even as hiring and economic growth has slowed.

Figures released Thursday by the U.S. Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 212,000 for the week ended Oct. 19. Figures for the prior week were upwardly revised to 218,000.

Economists had forecast claims edging higher to 215,000 in the latest week. The department said no states had claims estimated last week.

The overall decrease was despite an ongoing strike by about 48,000 workers at General Motors (NYSE:GM). While striking workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits, the work stoppage has affected production, impacting non-striking employees at suppliers.