The number of people filing for new unemployment benefits fell for the third straight week, a sign of an improving labor market.
Initial claims for jobless benefits, a measure of layoffs, decreased by 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000 in the week ended Nov. 30, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had forecast 320,000 new claims.
The prior wee\’s level was revised up to 321,000 from the initially reported 316,000. The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out choppy weekly data, dropped to 322,250.
A Labor Department analyst said there were no unusual factors affecting the latest report, though he noted that holidays like Veterans Day and Thanksgiving—which don’t always fall during the same week of the month—can complicate seasonal adjustments.
Because the seasonal factors create some volatility in the numbers, economists caution against reading too much into November and December jobless claims.
Still, the overall trend has been one of improvement since the start of the 16-day government shutdown in October. New claims are 75,000 lower than the week ending Oct. 5, when squabbling over the budget and debt ceiling caused numbers to spike. New claims have fallen seven of the past eight weeks.
Layoffs are only one part of the labor equation. But hiring tends to increase when layoffs decline.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at