The number of people filing for new unemployment benefits fell for the fifth time in six weeks, more evidence that the labor market is steadily improving.
Initial claims for jobless benefits, a measure of layoffs, decreased by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 in the week ended Nov. 16, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had forecast 335,000 new claims.
The prior week’s level was revised up to 344,000 from the initially reported 339,000. The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out volatility in the weekly data, dropped to 338,500.
The labor market perked up in October despite a 16-day partial federal government shutdown and debt-ceiling fight. Employers added 204,000 jobs last month, a figure well ahead of expectations and a sign of the economy regaining some momentum.
“This report adds to the evidence that the effects of the shutdown-and-debt-limit saga are being shaken off and the recovery in the labor market is still on track,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note to clients.
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