Applications for jobless benefits dropped 30,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Oct. 6, the fewest since February 2008, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 370,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. One state accounted for most of the plunge in claims, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data were issued to the press.
Waning dismissals may help clear the way for bigger hiring gains with any improvement in demand. At the same time, the global economy cooling and a lack of clarity on U.S. fiscal policy are hurdles for faster gains in employment.
The report “is consistent with a labor market that is gradually getting better,” said Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, who had predicted a decline in claims. “Layoffs are at a low level and don’t seem to be going anywhere. Hiring is still very muted.”
Estimates for first-time claims ranged from 355,000 to 377,000 in the Bloomberg survey of 49 economists. The Labor Department revised the number of applications for the prior week up to 369,000 from a previously estimated 367,000.