Culture

USA initial jobless claims drop unexpectedly

USA initial jobless claims drop unexpectedly”

Filings for jobless benefits in the US unexpectedly settled back last week, underscoring a resilient labor market even as the Atlantic hurricane season introduces added volatility to the figures, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 300,000.

Claims shot up 62,000 in the week ended September 2 after Harvey, which ravaged Texas, left some workers temporarily unemployed.

The underlying data still suggests a very firm labour market as claims excluding the impact of hurricanes are likely to have remained below the 250,000 level in the latest week. But the flooding and destruction in Texas, Louisiana and Florida as a result of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could cause significant job losses, at least temporarily.

Applications for unemployment insurance last week were estimated for Florida, Georgia and SC - states that were impacted by Hurricane Irma.

In Puerto Rico, where Irma made an earlier landfall, weekly claims were "affected by Hurricane Irma", the Labor Department said, without elaborating. Some forecasters have predicted the destruction caused by the storms will weigh on economic activity in the third quarter, but could boost growth in the fourth quarter as rebuilding efforts take shape.

Though they can see large swings from week to week, unemployment insurance claims can be used to gauge the prevalence of layoffs and the health of labor markets.

The number of people already collecting unemployment checks, known as continuing claims, fell by 7,000 to 1.94 million in the first week of September.

The unemployment rate among workers eligible for benefits remained at 1.4% for the week and it has remained at this level since early April. Data on continuing claims are released with a one-week lag.



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