Initial unemployment claims fell to their lowest level since pre-recession days, suggesting that the U.S. labor market’s upturn will continue, a government report said Thursday.
In the week ending Oct. 4, seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims came in at 287,000, a modest decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s level, according to the US Department of Labor.
Because the weekly numbers tend to be unstable, many economists prefer to look at the four-week average, which tends to smooth out the weekly swings. Last week’s four-week moving average was 287,750, a significant decrease of 7,250 from the previous week’s revised average.
That’s the lowest four-week average in eight years, since February 4, 2006, when the average was 286,500.
“The jobless claims data continue to signal conditions are improving in the labor market,” said JP Morgan economist David Silver, in an online analysis of the week’s report
Initial claims, which measure the number of claims filed by newly unemployed people seeking to receive benefits, provide a limited but immediate glimpse of labor -market trends, and economists follow claims data for clues about longer-term developments, including the closely watched unemployment report the Labor Department issues once a month.
The numbers have been improving: The total number of people receiving unemployment benefits for the week ending Sept. 20 fell by 44,363 to a total of 2,127,499; that’s down sharply from a year ago, when a total of 4,010,587 Americans were claiming benefits, Thursday’s report said.