New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped last week and the number of Americans on jobless rolls fell back to levels last seen in 1973, suggesting a further tightening in labor market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 210,000 for the week ended Oct. 13, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. Claims fell to 202,000 during the week ended Sept. 15, which was the lowest level since November 1969.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 212,000 in the latest week. The Labor Department said claims for South and North Carolina continued to be affected by Hurricane Florence, which drenched the region in mid-September. Claims for Florida were impacted by Hurricane Michael.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 2,000 to 211,750 last week.
The claims data covered the survey period for the nonfarm payrolls component of October’s employment report. While the four-week moving average of claims rose 5,750 between the September and October survey periods, that will probably not change expectations for a rebound in job growth this month after Florence depressed restaurant and retail payrolls in September.