Jobless claims fell once again for the week ending November 23 as the number of people seeking such benefits dropped by 10,000 to an adjusted 316,000. The four-week average also declined by 7,500 to 331,750 as reported by the Labor Department. Both measurements have returned to pre-recession levels. Layoffs have also fallen during six of the past seven weeks.
There has been a broad trend of improved hiring as layoffs have consistently declined and employers added 204,000 jobs in October 2013. This relatively healthy number indicates that the 16-day government shutdown left companies undeterred. Private businesses added 212,000 new jobs rising to the highest level since February. Overall, the economy has added an average 202,000 jobs per month from August through October, a significant increase over the 146,000 measured from May through June.
“If claims can trend at anything like this level through the inevitable noise of Thanksgiving and then the holiday season, that would mark a real improvement on the pre-shutdown period and would be consistent with stronger payroll growth,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a client note.
The total number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits into the first week of November was 3.9 million, sinking from 5.2 million recorded in November 2012. Heightened employment usually boosts income which may bode well for the economy in the near future. However, the unemployment still remains at 7.3 percent, higher than the typical 5 to 6 percent rate seen in healthy job markets. Higher unemployment makes changing jobs more difficult.