(CN) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 12,000 last week, reflecting a return to normalcy after the disruptive punch of two major hurricanes impacting the U.S., the Labor Department said Thursday.
Claims for the week came in at 260,000, the department said while the less-volatile four-week average declined by 9,500 to 268,250.
The government said the number of Americans collecting unemployment now stands at 1.94 million, down about 6.2 percent from last year.
Both Florida and Georgia saw a sharp increase in unemployment claims after Hurricane Irma rumbled through the Southeast in late August and early September.
But last week, jobless claims fell 26.8 percent in Georgia and 20.4 percent in Florida, as businesses in those states recover from storm-related disruptions.
Claims were also down last week in Texas, dropping by 15.1 percent from the previous week as benefit applications returned to more normal levels in that state following Hurricane Harvey.
The government will release the September employment report on Friday.
Analysts expect the numbers to show the economy created about 100,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.4 percent, near a 16-year low.