WASHINGTON – New claims for unemployment benefits in the United States fell by 5,000 in the week ended Oct. 28 to a lower-than-expected 229,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Economists had been expecting a seasonally adjusted 235,000 new claims last week, up from a revised 234,000 in the previous week.
The rolling four-week average of claims, a more reliable indicator of trends in the labor market, decreased last week by 7,250 to 232,500, the lowest level since April 1973, according to the Labor Department’s report.
Initial claims have been under 300,000 for 139 consecutive weeks. Economists say any reading below that level is indicative of a healthy labor market.
The number of claims drawn by people for longer than a week – known as continuing claims – fell by 15,000 to 1.88 million in the week ended Oct. 21, the lowest level since 1973.
The job market has remained strong during the first nine months of US President Donald Trump’s administration, with the headline unemployment rate ticking down to 4.2 percent in September, its lowest level in 16 years.
The US economy, however, lost 33,000 jobs in September, the first monthly drop in seven years; that decline was blamed on the loss of 105,000 jobs at restaurants and bars due to the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The government’s unemployment report for the month of October is due out on Friday morning.