Applications for Unemployment Benefits Decline to 238,000

(CN) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits slid to 238,000 last week, an indication job market remained strong heading into the start of the holiday season, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Any figure below 300,000 indicates that hiring is likely healthy and employers are confident enough in future demand to keep their workers.

Last week was the 143rd consecutive week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was considerably smaller.

The  department said weekly applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 2,000 last week.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 2,250 to 242,250 last week.

The unemployment rate has fallen to a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, and growth reached 3.3 percent at an annual rate in the July-September quarter, the fastest in three years.

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