The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly jobless claims fell more than expected to a near 42-year low last week, though the number of eligibility remains a factor. The report comes after last week’s monthly employment report increased doubts the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates by the end of this year.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits, measured as the firing rate among employers, fell by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000 for the week ended Oct. 3. That was the lowest since mid-July when the number of claims was at its lowest since 1973. Hitting such a historical low is baffling considering the U.S. workforce is the smallest since 1977 and the smallest number of men ever were participating in the labor force last month.
The Labor Department said there were no special factors impacting last week’s claims. Claims for the prior week were revised lower by 1,000, and conomists polled by Reuters had forecast a more modest decline in claims to 274,000 last week.
The four-week moving average of claims–which is widely considered to be a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility–fell by 3,000 to 267,500. The Labor Department report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose by 9,000 to 2.20 million in the week ended Sept. 26.