US Jobless Claims Fell, Labor Market Continues to Tighten

Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. declined to a five-week low, consistent with a resilient labour market, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

The initial estimate for the previous week was unchanged at 238,000. The drop surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 240,000.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, which aims to smoothe out the volatility in the data from one week to the next, fell by 750 to 241,500.

The Labor Department noted claims taking procedures continue to be disrupted in the Virgin Islands, while the claims taking process in Puerto Rico has still not returned to normal.

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Meanwhile, the number of claims workers made for longer than a week a also dropped, falling to 1,908,000 in the week ended November 25, which is reported along with last week's data because continuing claims are released with a one-week lag.

A report Friday is projected to show payrolls increased by nearly 200,000 in November, while the jobless rate held at an nearly 17-year low of 4.1%.

Last week's near-historic low claims figure is a sign Friday's jobs report could bring yet another historically low unemployment rate.

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