Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The number of people applying for unemployment benefits for the first time dropped for the third straight week, though the total number of claims suggests that the job market is improving at a slow pace.
In the week ended Oct. 26, jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 340,000 from 350,000 in the previous period, according to a Labor Department report released Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of 49 economists called for a 338,000 decrease according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
Unemployment benefits claims increased early October due to reporting problems in California and job losses in the private sector related to the 16-day partial government shutdown. Since then, the level of claims has fallen steadily as the technical errors in the state have been resolved and the initial impact of the debate in Washington over the budget waned.
On Wednesday, U.S. Federal Reserve policy makers decided to keep their $85bn monthly bond-buying program, citing high unemployment, tight fiscal policy and other factors. The central bank said it is looking for more evidence that the economic recovery is sustainable before scaling back its monetary stimulus aimed to push down interest rates and boost investment in stocks, businesses and housing.
Economists are waiting for the government’s October payrolls report due to be released next week. The figure is anticipated to show weak growth.