U.S. Jobless Claims Fall Last Week

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The FINANCIAL — The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week, a figure consistent with job growth.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., decreased by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000 in the week ended Oct. 3, the Labor Department said on October 8, according to Nasdaq.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 273,000 new claims last week. Claims for the prior week were revised down by 1,000 to 276,000.

The Labor Department said there were no special factors affecting the latest weekly data, but figures from South Carolina and Nevada were estimated. South Carolina state offices were closed earlier this week due to flooding.

Claims data tends to be uneven from week to week, but have generally been falling since 2009. Jobless claims touched a 40-year low in the week of July 18. Claims have hovered just above that level in recent months, and remain well in the territory most economists say is consistent with growing employment.

The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out weekly ups and downs, fell by 3,000 to 267,500 last week.

Other measures of the labor market suggest some cooling in recent months. Employers added 142,000 jobs in September and 136,000 in August, the Labor Department said last week. That’s a slowdown from nearly 250,000 added monthly, on average, during the prior 18 months. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.1% in September, but that partially reflected Americans dropping out of the labor force.

Thursday’s report showed the number of continuing unemployment benefits, claims drawn by workers for more than a week, rose by 9,000 to 2,204,000 in the week ended Sept. 26. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.

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