First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by more than anticipated in the week ended October 7th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The report said initial jobless claims dropped to 243,000, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 258,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 251,000 from the 260,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also fell to 257,500, a decrease of 9,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 267,000.
Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also slid by 32,000 to 1.889 million in the week ended September 30th.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims dropped to 1,925,000, a decrease of 11,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,936,500.
Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing an unexpected decrease in employment in the U.S. in the month of September.
The report said non-farm payroll employment fell by 33,000 jobs in September after climbing by an upwardly revised 169,000 jobs in August.
The modest decrease surprised economists, who had expected employment to rise by 90,000 jobs compared to the addition of 156,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
The Labor Department said a sharp decline in employment in food services and drinking places and below-trend growth in some other industries likely reflected the impact of the hurricanes.
Despite the unexpected drop in employment, the unemployment rate dipped to 4.2 percent in September from 4.4 percent in August. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to hold at 4.4 percent.
With the unexpected decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting a matching rate in February of 2001.