Jobless claims show resilient USA job market

Mae Love
December 7, 2017

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting a rapid tightening of the labor market.

For the week ended 2 December, the jobless claims fell to 236,000, consistent with Barclays projection of 235k. The drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 240,000.

The less volatile four-week moving average also dipped to 241,500, a decrease of 750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 242,250.

The continued low readings on weekly jobless claims show that the labor market has recovered from the devastation caused by the 2007-2009 Great Recession, the worst downturn since the 1930s. The government will release the November unemployment figure on Friday and private economists believe that figure will show unemployment remaining at 4.1 percent.

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A report Friday is projected to show payrolls increased by nearly 200,000 in November, while the jobless rate held at an nearly 17-year low of 4.1%.

The unemployment rate is forecast unchanged in November.

The Labor Department says the destruction from the September hurricanes is still disrupting claims processing in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It has declined by seven-tenths of a percentage point this year.

The claims report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 52,000 to 1.91 million in the week ended November 25. The four-week moving average remained stable at 242k.

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