In perhaps better news, the four-week moving average sank another 10,000 to 446,500. Economists emphasize this more-telling measure because it smooths out anomalies due to holidays, strikes and weather-related layoffs.
Continuing claims also fell, by an additional 86,000 to 4.30 million. Some of the decline in continuing claims reflects Americans whose benefits have been exhausted, but it also reflects Americans who have found work. A year ago, initial claims totaled 507,000, the four-week moving average was at 523,000 and continuing claims totaled 5.68 million.
One Notable Setback
States also reported 3.82 million people claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending Oct. 23, the latest week for which data are available, a decrease of 162,460 from the prior week. A year ago, 3.52 million people claimed EUC benefits.
The highest insured unemployment rates for the week ending Oct. 23, the latest week for which data are available, were in Puerto Rico, 6.1%; Alaska, 5.2%: California, 4.1%; Oregon, 4.1%: Pennsylvania, 4%; and Nevada, 3.9%.
It's unlikely that initial claims will keep declining at a 20,000-plus pace per week, but steady drops of 4,000 to 7,000 would represent another sign of subsiding layoffs and a U.S. economy that's starting to demand more employees. Not until jobless claims regularly slide below 400,000 will economists and investors have confidence that commercial activity is increasing at a healthy job-creating pace.