The numbers: The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell slightly to 217,000 and stayed at very low levels typical of a strong U.S. jobs market.
New jobless claims declined by 3,000 from a revised 220,000 in the prior week, the government said.
Claims still show a very low number of job losses and indicate the economy is stable, but businesses are hiring less and the labor market appears to have cooled off a bit. One complication is the UAW auto strike. It may have inflated claims lately.
Economists had forecast new claims in the week ending Nov. 4 to total 220,000.
Key details: New jobless claims rose in 34 of the 53 states and territories that report these figures to the federal government. Most of the increases were very small, however.
Claims fell in 19 states.
The number of raw or actual claims — that is, before seasonal adjustments — topped 200,000 for the first time in 12 weeks.
Unemployment claims typically surge above 300,000 and eventually go a lot higher when a recession is near.
The number of people collecting unemployment benefits in the U.S., meanwhile, rose for the seventh week in a row to 1.83 million. That’s the highest level in seven months.
The backup in these so-called continuing claims could be a sign it’s taking longer for people to find new jobs.
Big picture: A rock-solid labor market is showing some chinks, but the unemployment rate is still extremely low and few companies are laying off workers. The strong jobs market is the economy’s biggest insurance policy against a recession.
Looking ahead: “Initial claims still support a jobs market typical of an expansion,” said corporate economist Robert Frick of Navy Federal Credit Union. “Average weekly claims this year are about 227,000, and given the booming third quarter GDP, claims are unlikely to rise much this year.”
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
were set to open higher in Thursday trading.