The Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell in the week ended December 9th.
The report said initial jobless claims slid to 202,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 221,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged compared to the 220,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the unexpected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 200,000 in the week ended October 14th.
“Initial jobless claims continue to bounce around due to seasonal noise, falling last week to their lowest level since mid-October,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics. “Looking past seasonal volatility, initial claims remain at a level that is consistent with relatively low layoffs”
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also slipped to 213,250, a decrease of 7,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 221,000.
Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose by 20,000 to 1.876 million in the week ended December 2nd.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also climbed to 1,874,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,871,000, reaching the highest level since December 2021.
“The continued claims data suggest that some unemployed individuals may be encountering more difficulties in finding new jobs, which would be consistent with weakening demand for labor,” said Vanden Houten.
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