The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, consistent with strong labour market conditions and continued job growth.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 211,000 for the week ended Nov. 2, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims would fall to 215,000 in the latest week. The Labor Department said claims for one state, Kentucky, were estimated last week.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 250 to 215,250 last week.
The level of claims suggests solid labour market conditions. Employment grew faster than expected in October, with firms adding 128,000 jobs, even though a strike by workers at General Motors idled 46,000 employees at the automaker’s plants in Michigan and Kentucky.
The Federal Reserve cut interest rates last week for the third time this year to support continued economic growth. Officials also signalled a pause in the easing cycle, which started in July when the central bank reduced borrowing costs for the first time since 2008. Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged some moderation in the pace of job growth this year, but said “the job market remains strong.”
Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of benefits dipped 3,000 to 1.69 million for the week ended Oct. 26. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims was unchanged at 1.69 million.