Jobless claims see big swings from week to week but can be used to gauge the prevalence of layoffs and the strength of jobs markets.
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the USA, fell by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 in the week ended October 14, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The Labor Department noted claims taking procedures continue to be severely disrupted in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as a result of power outages and infrastructure damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected 239,000 new claims last week.
Claims are declining as the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wash out of the data.
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Nonfarm payrolls dropped by 33,000 jobs in September, as Hurricanes Irma and Harvey left more than 100,000 restaurant workers temporarily unemployed. The hemorrhaged jobs are likely a reflection of hurricane-related economic disruptions, though Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands aren't included in national employment data.
Still, claims have remained historically low, showing the overall health of the labor market.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends, as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 9,500 to 248,250 last week. Georgia's unemployment rate was still above the US rate of 4.2 percent last month, but the jobless rate across the Peach State has still declined steadily from the 5.4 percent rate a year ago as Georgia employers have added 84,000 jobs in the past year.
The average workweek index also increased 8 points to a reading of 19.4.
The overall number of Americans collecting unemployment checks dropped to 1.89 million, lowest since December 1973 and down almost 9 percent from a year ago. The four-week moving average of continuing claims dropped 22,750 to 1.91 million, the lowest level since January 1974.
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