Applications for US Jobless Benefits Drop to 236,000

(CN) — The number of unemployed workers filing for unemployment benefits fell by 2,000 last week to 236,000, the lowest level in five weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Last week’s applications total was the third consecutive weekly drop, the department said.  The number of people receiving aid fell by 52,000 to 1.91 million, remaining near a four-decade low set last month.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, edged down 750 to 241,500 last week.

With Thursday’s report, weekly jobless claims have been below 300,000 for nearly three years.

The government will release the November unemployment figure on Friday with most economists expecting the figure to come in at  4.1 percent —  well below the level the Federal Reserve considers full employment.

Private analysts are also expecting to hear that the economy created a healthy 200,000 jobs in November.

Employers added 261,000 jobs in October, a solid gain after hiring fell in September because of the storms.

The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, expanded at a 3.3 percent pace in the July-September quarter after a 3.1 percent gain in the spring.

The Labor Department said unemployment claims for last week were estimated for the Virgin Islands as the territory continues to recover from hurricanes Irma and Maria three months ago.

The department also noting that the claims-taking process in Puerto Rico has still not returned to normal in the wake of the devastating storms.

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