US weekly jobless claims fall to 709,000, lower than economist forecasts as labour-market recovery accelerates

Reuters
  • New US jobless claims for the week that ended Saturday totaled 709,000, the Labour Department said Thursday. The reading came in below the consensus economist estimate of 731,000 and showed a decrease from the previous week’s revised figure.
  • Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, dropped to 6.8 million for the week that ended October 31. That was also slightly below economist estimates.
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The number of filings for US unemployment benefits decreased last week and landed well below economist estimates as the labour market’s rebound showed signs of acceleration.

New weekly US jobless claims reached an unadjusted 709,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labour Department announced Thursday morning. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a reading of 731,000. The new reading came in below the previous week’s revised total of 757,000 and marks a fourth straight weekly decline.

Continuing claims, which track the aggregate total of Americans on unemployment insurance, fell to about 6.8 million for the week that ended October 31. The reading came in slightly below economist estimates.


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The latest report follows a weaker-than-expected reading last week. Claims declined but at a slower pace than expected, suggesting the nation’s economic recovery was weakening. Filings have hovered at about 750,000 through the fall as hiring activity slows and surging virus cases threaten new lockdowns.

Nearly 68 million filings for unemployment benefits have been made since the pandemic hit the US in March. That’s well above the 37 million filings made during the 18-month Great Recession. This week’s total, while down from past months’ readings, also exceeds the 665,000 filings made during the Great Recession’s worst week.

Thursday’s claims reading follows the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ more in-depth report on the US labour market. The nation’s economy added 638,000 nonfarm payrolls in October, according to the Friday report, more than the 580,000 expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The unemployment rate fell to 6.9% from 7.9%, lower than the 7.6% forecast rate.


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The report marked the sixth straight month of job additions, but the slowed pace of improvement suggests the economy faces an uphill battle to fully recover.

Surging virus cases risk making that uphill battle even more difficult. The US reported a 139,855 new cases on Tuesday, a record high for daily increases. Hospitalizations neared 62,000. The global resurgence of cases already led several European nations to reinstate lockdown measures. A similar policy in the US could dramatically slow hiring activity and drive new layoffs.


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