Jobless claims fall to near a 42-year low

Thu Oct 8, 2015 8:51am EDT
 
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By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new applications for jobless benefits fell more than expected to near a 42-year low last week, pointing to ongoing tightening in the labor market despite the recent slowdown in hiring.

The data released on Thursday provides an upbeat check on the health of the labor market after last week's monthly employment report increased doubts the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates by the end of this year.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000 for the week ended Oct. 3, the Labor Department said.

That was the lowest since mid-July when the number of claims was at its lowest since 1973. Hitting such a historical low is remarkable considering the U.S. workforce has grown considerably since the 1970s.

It was also the 31st straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is usually associated with a strengthening labor market. The Labor Department said there were no special factors impacting last week's claims.

Claims for the prior week were revised lower by 1,000. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a more modest decline in claims to 274,000 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, dropped 3,000 to 267,500.

U.S. Treasury yields were little changed following publication of the data, and U.S. stock futures continued their declines.   Continued...

 
Job seekers listen to a presentation at the Colorado Hospital Association health care career fair in Denver April 9, 2013.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking