Jobless claims rise more than expected as hurricane backlog clears

FILE PHOTO: Job seekers listen to a recruiter at the Colorado Hospital Association job fair in Denver
FILE PHOTO: Job seekers listen to a recruiter at the Colorado Hospital Association job fair in Denver, Colorado, U.S. on October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo -

November 9, 2017

By Howard Schneider

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, suggesting that claims processing disrupted by recent hurricanes has begun to improve.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 239,000 for the week ended Nov. 4, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims had fallen to 229,000 in the prior week, near a 44-1/2-year low, and remain well below the 300,000 level generally regarded as signaling a healthy labor market.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 231,000 in the latest week. They have declined from an almost three-year high of 298,000 hit at the start of September in the aftermath of hurricanes that ravaged parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The Labor Department noted that it is now processing backlogged claims in Puerto Rico though its operations in the Virgin Islands remain severely disrupted.

U.S. Treasury yields held near session highs after the data, while the dollar trimmed losses. U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower, a day after Wall Street closed at a record high.

Last week marked the 139th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 1,250, to 231,250 last week, the lowest level since March 31, 1973. That suggests ongoing job growth in an economy many regard as near full employment, with the jobless rate at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.

The so-called continuing claims rose 17,000 to 1.90 million. Economists polled by Reuters had expected continuing claims of 1.89 million.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell 750, to 1.90 million, the lowest level since Jan. 12, 1974, suggesting a continued decline in labor market slack.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

  • Living_The_Dream

    Jobs are everywhere, however; one must possess the appropriate skills and credentials to get some of those jobs. I retired from the Navy 18 months ago, and just started a full-time job four months ago. I refuse to work at any fast food establishment, but that’s just me. For the year before that, I was a “part-time” school bus driver (all school bus drivers are PT in a local community) since there’s a 4 hour break in the middle of the day. I made extra $$ by driving trips. Kind of nice getting paid to watch HS football, volleyball, wrestling, baseball, basketball, or taking various organizations to their competitions.

    If someone is unemployed, that’s a choice. If you can’t find your dream job or a career field for which you went to college, do something else, until your “dream” job comes around.

  • All American

    Anyone can find a job if they “want” to work. If ya have to work two jobs to make it do it!
    I did for many years while training for a career and raising a family alone physically. I constantly confirmed the presence of my creator. I reflected on the life of Jesus and was empowered!
    There are few excuses in my play book!

  • brandehhh

    LOL last week there was only 229k jobless.

  • River

    Jobless claims in Puerto Rico??? Seems like there is a TON of work to do there! Same in Florida and Texas! People are still waiting in long queues for their stuff to be cleaned, repaired or replaced.

    • All American

      You’ve got that right!