Claims for Unemployment Benefits Fall for First Time in Three Weeks

(CN) — The number of people filing applications for unemployment benefits fell for the first time in three weeks, the Labor Department said Wednesday, with total applications down to a low 239,000.

The government said applications dropped by 13,000 last week.

Applications for unemployment benefits are considered a proxy for layoffs. The level of unemployment benefits has been below 300,000 for more than two years — a stretch not equaled in more than four decades.

Employers added 261,000 jobs in October as the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent, the Labor Department said.

Meanwhile, the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a 3 percent rate in the third quarter quarter after a 3.1 percent pace in the second quarter. That marked the first back-to-back quarterly gains of 3 percent or better in three years.

The government said Wednesday that claims processing continues to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands but the ability to take claims has improved in Puerto Rico. Both islands were devastated by hurricanes earlier this year.

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