Falling by 23,000 last week, national unemployment benefits applications dropped to a seasonally adjusted 393,000; the second consecutive drop after Hurricane Sandy drove applications high. The effects of Sandy are now believed to have disappeared from employment data, according to analysts at the U.S. Department of Labor. The four-week average, including the spike from the storm three weeks ago, increased to 405,250.
Government reports blame an additional 75,000 applications, during the week ending November 10, in New York and New Jersey on the storm, which also impacted unemployment in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Last week, applications fell by approximately 31,000 in New York and remained stagnant in New Jersey. The additional drop in job gains for November is also expected to return to normal in December as companies begin hiring as usual.
The total number of unemployment benefits recipients sank to below 5.2 million for the week ending November 10; about 60,000 fewer than the previous week. However, Sandy is expected to slow job growth during the current quarter, which may now drop below 2 percent, down from an estimated 2.7 percent growth in Q3 2012. Other concerns about the impending “fiscal cliff” approaching in January may also hurt growth for the quarter and could accelerate a decline should the government fail to reach a deal averting the crisis in the interim.