Initial jobless claims edged down 0.6% to 339,000 for the week ending Nov. 9, according to a Labor Department report released today.
After falling a revised 1.2% the previous week, this newest report marks the fifth straight week of declines after the government shutdown and computer issues pushed claims up in early October. But analysts were disappointed by the news, having expected a more substantial 3.2% decline.
From a more long-term perspective, a 1.6% drop in the four-week moving average to 344,000 initial claims is a sign of a stronger downward trend. Both the latest week's claims and the four-week average fall significantly below 400,000, the cutoff point economists consider a sign of an improving labor market.
On a state-by-state basis, Oregon and California recorded a decrease of more than 1,000 initial claims for the week ending Nov. 2 (most recent available data). Neither state provided the Labor Department with a comment for their respective 3,010 and 2,470 initial claims declines.
For the same period, four states registered increases of more than 1,000 initial claims. At 2,720 more claims than the prior week, Michigan took the lead. Ohio followed close behind, as transportation and manufacturing layoffs contributed to a 2,290 claims increase.