Jobless Claims in U.S. Declined Ahead of Presidential Election

Weekly U.S. Jobless Claims Decline to 254,000

Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits declined from an almost three-month high ahead of the presidential election, indicating the job market remains competitive for employers.

Jobless claims fell by 11,000 to 254,000 in the week ended Nov. 5, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 260,000. Continuing claims rose, though the four-week average dropped to the lowest since 2000.

Steady progress in the U.S. in the labor market has kept layoffs near a four-decade low, as managers resist firings in face of a shrinking pool of qualified applicants. The figures come on the heels of last week’s monthly jobs report showing employers continued to add to payrolls at a steady pace in October.

Filings for unemployment benefits have been below 300,000 for 88 straight weeks -- the longest streak since 1970 -- and a level typical for a healthy labor market.

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 255,000 to 275,000. The prior week’s reading was unrevised at 265,000.

The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, ticked up to 259,750 from 258,000 in the prior week.

Continuing Claims

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose by 18,000 to 2.04 million in the week ended Oct. 29, while the four-week average dropped by 2,250. The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.5 percent. These data are reported with a one-week lag.

One state, Virginia, had estimated claims last week and there was nothing unusual in the overall data, according to the Labor Department.

Though applications for unemployment insurance remain near historic lows, there are other factors that have pushed claims down, including cuts in the duration of benefits and changes to claim-filing technology.

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