U.S. weekly jobless claims fall to new 19-month low

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a fresh 19-month low last week.

This suggests that the economy was regaining momentum amid a significant improvement in public health, though supply constraints remain.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 269,000 for the week ended Oct. 30, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

That was the lowest level since the middle of March in 2020, when mandatory business closures were being enforced to slow the first wave of COVID-19 infections.

Claims have now declined for five straight weeks.

The summer wave of infections driven by the Delta variant has subsided, encouraging more Americans to travel, dine out and frequent sporting venues among activities that were curtailed by the resurgence in cases.

The Delta variant and shortages of goods contributed to restricting economic growth to its slowest pace in more than a year last quarter.

Claims, which have declined from a record high of 6.149 million in early April 2020, are now within a range that is generally viewed as consistent with a healthy labor market.

This augurs well for October’s employment report due on Friday.

According to a Reuters poll of economists, nonfarm payrolls likely rose by 450,000 jobs last month. The economy created 194,000 jobs in September, the fewest in nine months.

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