US jobless claims rise, but underlying labour market trends firming

[WASHINGTON] The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose for a second straight week last week, but remained at levels consistent with a firming labour market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 for the week ended Oct 25, the Labour Department said on Thursday.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 250 to 281,000. Claims at these levels indicate a strengthening in labour market conditions.

A Labour Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday offered a rather upbeat view of the labour market, dropping its characterization of labour market slack as "significant." Fed officials now view the underutilization of labour resources as "gradually diminishing." The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 29,000 to 2.38 million in the week ended Oct 18.

The so-called continuing claims data covered the period for the household survey from which the unemployment rate for October will be calculated.

Continuing claims fell 58,000 between the September and October survey periods, suggesting a decline in the jobless rate. The unemployment rate fell below 6 percent in September for the first time since July 2008.


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