U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Drop More Than Expected To 209,000

With the report coming a day earlier than usual due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday on Thursday, the Labor Department revealed on Wednesday that first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by much more than expected in the week ended November 18th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slid to 209,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 233,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 225,000 from the 231,000 originally reported for the previous week.

The bigger than expected decline came after a week after jobless claims reached their highest level since hitting 240,000 in the week ended August 12th.

“We are entering the time of year when seasonal noise will make the claims data harder to interpret,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics. “Stepping back, though, initial claims remain at a level that is consistent with relatively low layoffs.”

She added, “Looking past seasonal noise, we think the claims data are consistent with a job market that is cooling enough to keep rate hikes off the table, but too strong to make rate cuts a consideration any time soon.”

The report said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 220,000, a decrease of 750 from the previous week’s revised average of 220,750.

Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 22,000 to 1.840 million in the week ended November 11th.

The previous week’s level was revised down to 1.862 million from 1.865 million but still represents a nearly two-year high.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose to 1,836,750 from the previous week’s revised average 1,822,500, reaching the highest level since December 2021.

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