U.S. jobless claims fall, unwind prior week's increase

Thu Dec 4, 2014 8:32am EST
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WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to

an improving labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000 for the week ended Nov. 29, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The decline almost reversed the prior week's increase which had pushed claims above 300,000 for the first time since early September. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 295,000 last week.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, increased by 4,750 to 299,0000. It has held below

300,000 for 12 straight weeks, indicating labor market strength.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's claims data. The data has no relevance to November's employment report, which is scheduled to

be released on Friday, as it falls outside the survey period.

Nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 230,000 last month after rising by 214,000 in October, according to a Reuters survey of economists. November would mark the 10th consecutive   Continued...

Job seekers wait to meet potential employers at a career fair at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar