Initial jobless claims inched up 0.3% to 308,000 for the week ending Sept. 28, according to a Labor Department report released today.
After dropping a revised 1% the previous week to its lowest unrevised reading in six years, this newest report managed to beat analysts' expectations of 313,000 new claims.
From a more long-term perspective, a 1.2% drop in the four-week moving average to 305,000 initial claims marks the fifth straight report of falling claims and the lowest mark for that number since May 2007, seven months before the recession began.
Both the latest week's claims and the four-week average fall significantly below 400,000, a cutoff point that economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.
On a state-by-state basis, seven states recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ending Sept. 21 (the most recent available data). California knocked off 3,750 claims due primarily to fewer service layoffs, while Georgia dropped 2,720 claims due mostly to fewer manufacturing layoffs. Not a single state registered an increase of more than 1,000 initial claims.
Weekly applications could increase next week because of the partial government shutdown. Defense contractors and other companies that do business with the government may temporarily lay off workers. Federal workers who are temporarily laid off may also file for benefits, though their numbers are reported separately and published a week later than the other applications.
The Labor Department said today that it would not release the highly anticipated September jobs report on Friday because of the shutdown.
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. link