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Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 12:30 GMT Nov 2/08:30 EST Nov 2
--Four-Week Moving Average -7,250 To 232,500, Low Since April 1973
--3Q Nonfarm Productivity Rise 3.0%, Unit Labor Costs Up 0.5%.
By Kevin Kastner, Sara Haire and Holly Stokes
WASHINGTON (MNI) - Initial claims U.S. state unemployment benefits
fell by 5,000 to 229,000 in the October 28 week, well below the 235,000
level expected and driving the four-week average to a 44-year low, data
released by the Labor Department Thursday showed.
Also released Thursday, third quarter nonfarm productivity was up
3.0%, slightly ahead of the 2.9% gain expected and the largest increase
since the third quarter of 2014. Unit labor costs were up 0.5%, a
smaller gain than the 0.6% rise expected. Revisions to second quarter
data were very minor, with productivity still up 1.5% and unit labor
costs now up 0.3%, so the report was basically as expected.
The four-week moving average for initial claims, a better measure
of the underlying trend of the data, fell by 7,250 to 232,500 in the
October 28 week as the 258,000 level in the September 30 week rolled out
of the equation. This marks the lowest point for the average since the
April 7, 1973 week and confirms that claims have returned to their
The Labor Department reported that backlogged filings in Puerto
Rico have started to be processed, but are still held up in the Virgin
Islands. Unadjusted claims in Puerto Rico rose by 78% to 6,129 in the
If the number of headline claims does not change next week and
there are no revisions to data from the past four weeks, the four-week
average will fall by 3,750 as the 244,000 level in the October 7 week
rolls out of the calculation, which would break through to another low.
Seasonal adjustment factors had expected an increase of 2.1%, or
4,444, in unadjusted claims. Instead, unadjusted claims rose by only 86
to 215,757. The current week's level is well below the 245,751 level in
the comparable week a year ago.
The level of continuing claims fell by 15,000 to 1.884 million in
the October 21 week, the lowest level since the December 29, 1973 week.
Unadjusted continuing claims rose by 3,705 to 1.607 million in the week,
still well below the 1.742 million level a year earlier. The four-week
moving average for continuing claims fell by 9,250 to 1.896 million, the
lowest level since the January 12, 1974 week.
The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate fell to 1.3% in
the October 21 week from 1.4% in the previous week. The current week's
rate is down from 1.5% in the same week a year earlier.
The unemployment rate among the insured labor force is well below
that reported monthly by the Labor Department because claims are
approved for the most part only for job losers, not the job leavers and
labor force reentrants included in the monthly report.
Third quarter output rose at a 3.8% rate, compared with the 3.9%
rate now reported for the previous quarter. Hours worked rose only 0.8%
in the third quarter after 2.4% in the second quarter.
Compensation rose 3.5% in the third quarter after an unrevised 1.8%
gain in the second quarter, and was up 1.5% after inflation
adjustment. Real compensation rose 2.1% in the second quarter.
The year/year pace of productivity growth accelerated modestly to
1.5% in the third quarter from 1.3% in the second quarter, reaching its
highest point since the second quarter of 2015. Unit labor costs now
stand 0.1% lower than they were a year ago, a slight improvement from
the 0.2% year/year rate of decline in the second quarter, but an
indication that labor cost inflation has slowed.
** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **