Applications for Jobless Benefits Fall to 236000 in 3rd Weekly Drop

Applications for unemployment benefits in the USA declined to a five-week low, consistent with a resilient labour market, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

For the week ended 2 December, the jobless claims fell to 236,000, consistent with Barclays projection of 235k. Data for the prior week was unrevised. The drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 240,000.

The Jobless claims have been below 300,000 for 144 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1970.

The Labor Department noted claims taking procedures continue to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands, while the claims taking process in Puerto Rico has still not returned to normal.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, edged down 750 to 241,500 last week.

With unemployment at 4.1 percent, that is well below the level the Federal Reserve considers full employment.

On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its closely watched report on the employment situation in month of November.

According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 200,000 in November after surging 261,000 in October. It has declined by seven-tenths of a percentage point this year. The four-week moving average remained stable at 242k.

The initial estimate for the previous week was unchanged at 238,000.

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