Initial Jobless Claims Drop 6.1%

The Department of Labor announced today that initial jobless claims for the week ending Nov. 16 fell to a seasonally adjusted level of 323,000, a decrease of 21,000, or 6.1%, relative to the 344,000 reported the previous week. The latest number is the lowest since late September.

Initial jobless claims had spiked in early October because of the partial government shutdown that impacted contractors and processing backlogs in California. But first-time applications have now fallen in five of the past six weeks. However, some economists warned that last week's Veterans Day holiday may have exaggerated last week's decline because many state government offices were closed on Nov. 11.



Source: U.S. Department of Labor.

The four-week moving average for jobless claims also fell for the third week in a row to 338,500:


Source: U.S. Department of Labor.

Relative to the same period last year, jobless claims are down significantly. For the week ending Nov. 17, 2012, initial jobless claims stood at 400,000, a level that is almost 20% higher than where they stand today.

In total, 3.9 million people received jobless benefits for the week ending Nov 2, 2013 (the latest data available), a decrease of 33,000 from the previous week. This stands in stark contrast to the 5.2 million that were receiving jobless benefits during the comparable week last year.

The states with the highest increase in initial jobless claims for the week ending Nov. 9 (the latest available data) were California, New York, and Pennsylvania, while Florida, Kentucky, and Ohio all saw the greatest decrease in jobless claims as shown in the cart below:

State

Jobless Claims Nov. 2-Nov. 9

California 

4,737

New York 

2,853

Pennsylvania

2,711

Ohio

-409

Kentucky

-580

Florida

-1,055

Source: U.S. Department of Labor.

Economists polled by news outlet Reuters anticipated that jobless claims for the most recent week would stand at 335,000.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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