US jobless claims tumble to lowest level in more than half century

Washington DC - A report released by the US Labor Department on Wednesday showed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits slid to their lowest level in more than 50 years in the week that ended on November 20.

The Labor Department building in Washington DC.
The Labor Department building in Washington DC.  © IMAGO / Xinhua

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims tumbled to 199,000, a decrease of 71,000 from the previous week's revised level of 270,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 260,000, from the 268,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the much-bigger-than-expected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 197,000 in November 1969.

However, Michael Pearce, senior US economist at Capital Economics, said the drop in jobless claims appears to be due to the later timing of Thanksgiving this year throwing off the seasonal adjustment, noting claims rose by 18,000 to 259,000 in non-seasonally adjusted terms.

The report showed the less volatile four-week moving average dipped by 21,000, to 252,250, once again hitting its lowest level since the week ended March 14, 2020. Continuing claims – which means people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance – also fell by 60,000 to a pandemic-era low of 2.049 million in the week that ended on November 13.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims also slid to 2,117,000, a decrease of 47,500 from the previous week's revised average 2,164,500, hitting the lowest level since March of 2020.

Next Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on employment in the month of November.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Xinhua

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