US Weekly Jobless Claims Decline by 10,000

By Arthur Greene December 8, 2016
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In the week ending December 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 258,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 268,000. The 4-week moving average was 252,500, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 251,500.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell from a five-month high last week, pointing to labor strength that underscores the economy's sustained momentum.

It was the 92nd straight week that claims were below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market. That is the longest stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.

Economists had dismissed the recent back-to-back increases in filings, which had pushed claims to a five-month high, as an aberration. Claims tend to be volatile around this time of the year because of different timings of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4 percent for the week ending November 26, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending November 26 was 2,005,000, a decrease of 79,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 3,000 from 2,081,000 to 2,084,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,028,750, a decrease of 9,500 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 750 from 2,037,500 to 2,038,250.

The report said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 178,000 jobs in November following a downwardly revised increase of 142,000 jobs in October.

A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing last week's data and that no states had been estimated.

A tight labor market together with signs of a strengthening economy and steadily rising inflation will likely push the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates at its Dec. 13-14 policy meeting. The U.S. central bank raised its benchmark overnight interest rate last December for the first time in nearly a decade.

The Labor Department also said the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in November from 4.9 percent in October. The unemployment rate had been expected to remain unchanged.

With the unexpected decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting a matching rate in August of 2007.

However, the drop in the unemployment rate partly reflected a decrease in labor force participation, with the participation rate edging down to 62.7 in November from 62.8 in October.

By Arthur Greene December 8, 2016

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