U.S. unemployment claims fall to 222000, lowest in 44 years

19 October, 2017, 20:19 | Author: Leticia Walters
  • A key measure of the jobs market just fell to its lowest level since 1973

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped more than expected last week, according to data from the Labor Department.

The hurricanes, which lashed Texas and Florida, boosted claims to 298,000 in early September. Last month's drop was driven by huge losses in restaurants and bars, which shed 105,000 jobs, a sign of the damage to Florida's tourism industry.

Initial jobless claims fell last week to their lowest level since 1973. Millions of Americans have been hired in recent years, unemployment is at a 16-year low of 4.2%, and wages might finally be starting to rise meaningfully.

Reuters says the number of claims decreased could also have been exaggerated by the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.

The new figures pointed to strong October job creation as the data were collected during the survey week for the Labor Department's monthly employment report.

Analysts say employers are reluctant to let employees go for fear they may be hard to replace, driving down claims for jobless benefits.

But collecting accurate figures on claims in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida is more hard than usual because of the hurricanes.

The Federal Reserve reported this week that U.S. labor markets were experiencing "widespread" labor shortages, with employers struggling to fill open positions, particularly in transportation and construction - but wage increases have been notably stagnant. Because the claims numbers are aggregated from state unemployment agencies weekly, they are valued by investors and government official as a high-frequency gauge of the economy's health.

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