The Labor Department said Thursday weekly jobless claims, their proxy for layoffs across the U.S., gained by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000 in the week ended Oct. 17. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 265,000 new claims last week.
The four-week moving average of claims–which is widely considered to be a better gauge as it evens out weekly ups and downs–fell by 2,000 to 263,250 last week. That was the lowest average level since December 1973, though the prior week was revised higher by 1,000 to 256,000, just slightly above the 42-year low touched in July.
The Labor Department, which said no special factors influenced data, said the number of continuing unemployment benefits, or claims by workers out for more than a week, rose by 6,000 to 2,170,000 in the week ended Oct. 10. Continuing claims, reported with a one-week lag, are still trending near the lowest level since November 2000.