The firing rate, or weekly jobless claims measured by the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell by 7,000 for the week ended Oct. 10. The the Labor Department said Thursday their proxy for layoffs across the U.S., decreased to a seasonally adjusted 255,000, matching the lowest level in more than 40 years.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 270,000 new claims last week. Claims for the prior week were revised down by 1,000 to 262,000 and the Labor Department said there were no special factors affecting the latest weekly data.
The four-week moving average of claims–which is widely considered to be a better gauge as it irons-out week-to-week volatility–fell by 2,250 to 265,000. That was the lowest average reading since December 1973, but labor force participation is also at its lowest level since October 1977.
Claims levels have generally been falling since 2009, though fewer-and-fewer long-term unemployed are eligible to receive benefits. The latest data suggests employers are reluctant to lay off workers, which indicates stronger hiring. However, in recent months job gains have abysmal–the U.S. economy added only 142,000 jobs last month–and the fewest number of men ever were participating in the labor market last month.
Thursday’s report showed the number of continuing unemployment benefits, claims drawn by workers for more than a week, fell by 50,000 to 2,158,000 in the week ended Oct. 3. That was the lowest level of continuing claims since November 2000.