Applications for U.S. Jobless Benefits Were Unchanged Last Week

Applications for unemployment benefits were unchanged in the first week of November, signaling employers with a healthier appetite for hiring are also holding the line on firings.

Jobless claims held at 276,000 in the week ended Nov. 7, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 270,000. Filings are holding just above the 255,000 reached in mid-July, which was the lowest level since late 1973.

Companies are limiting staffing cutbacks as steady domestic demand allays some of the concern about weaker global sales. Payrolls rose in October by the most in 10 months and the jobless rate fell to a seven-year low, showing firmer labor-market progress that might convince the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate next month.

“Demand for labor is pretty strong at this point,” Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James Financial Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida, said before the report. “It indicates a more positive outlook for companies.”

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey for jobless claims ranged from 259,000 to 280,000.

No states were estimated last week and there was nothing unusual in the data, according to the Labor Department.

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, climbed to 267,750, the highest since the end of September, from 262,750 in the prior week.

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 5,000 to 2.174 million in the week ended Oct. 31. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.6 percent, where it’s been since mid-September. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

Trend Continues

Since the beginning of March, claims have held below the 300,000 level that economists say is consistent with a strengthening the labor market.

On the hiring side of the labor equation, payrolls jumped by 271,000 in October. The advance, combined with revisions that made the August and September slowdown less severe, lifted the monthly average this year to 206,000. That compares with a 260,000 average last year that was the best since 1999.

Fed policy makers are weighing employment data along with inflation and growth figures as they debate whether to raise the benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2006. The officials next meet Dec. 15-16 in Washington.

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