The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits in the first week of October was basically unchanged at 287,000, reflecting a labor market that's experiencing an exceedingly low rate of layoffs and probably will continue to do so for months. Initial claims have fallen below the key 300,000 level for four straight weeks, the first time that's happened since early 2006. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected claims to rise to a seasonally adjusted 294,000. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, dropped by 7,250 to 287,750 and hit the lowest level since February 2006, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average reduces seasonal volatility in the weekly data and is seen as a more accurate barometer of labor-market trends. Also, the government said continuing claims decreased by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 2.38 million in the week ended Sept. 27. Continuing claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits and are reported with a one-week. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised to 288,000 from an original reading of 287,000. They fell 1,000 last week back to 287,000.
Copyright © 2014 MarketWatch, Inc.
Continue Reading Below