The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week as the labor market continued to show few signs of a significant slowdown.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 217,000 for the week ended Nov. 4 from an upwardly revised 220,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 218,000 claims for the latest week.
Data last week showed the job market is cooling, with the pace of hiring slowing and unemployment ticking higher, although joblessness – at 3.9% in October – remains historically low. A separate report showed that there were 1.5 job openings for every unemployed person in September, down from around 2-to-1 when the job market was the most tight last year.
The U.S. central bank held interest rates steady last week but left the door open to a further increase in borrowing costs in a nod to the economy’s resilience. Since March 2022, the Fed has raised its policy rate by 525 basis points to the current 5.25%-5.50% range.
The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid, a proxy for hiring, rose to 1.834 million during the week ending Oct. 28, the highest level since April, the claims report showed. The so-called continuing claims have increased in recent weeks, but economists said that mostly reflected difficulties adjusting the data for seasonal fluctuations rather than a material change in the underlying trend.
Indeed, layoffs remain considerably low. Global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said last week that announced job cuts by U.S.-based employers fell 22% last month from September, though they were up 9% from a year earlier.
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