The number of Americans applying for new jobless benefits lingered below 300,000 for the eighth straight week amid the lowest level of layoffs in years. Initial jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 278,000 in the week ended Nov. 1, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the second smallest number since the Great Recession ended and one of the lowest in 35 years. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 285,000. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, dropped by 2,250 to 279,000, touching a 14-year low. The four-week average reduces seasonal volatility in the weekly report and is seen as a more accurate gauge of labor-market trends. Also, Labor said continuing claims decreased by 39,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.35 million in the week ended Oct. 25. Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up by 1,000 to 288,000. In the same week a year earlier, initial claims were 23% higher at 341,000.
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