While the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a modest drop in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 15th, jobless claims still came in above economist estimates.
The report showed that jobless claims edged down to 382,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 385,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 373,000 from the 382,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "The Labor Dept attributed some of last week's rise to hurricane [Isaac] but said today's figure had nothing unusual."
The less volatile four-week moving average inched up to 377,750 from the previous week's revised average of 375,750.
Meanwhile, continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, fell to 3.272 million in the week ended September 8th from the preceding week's revised level of 3.304 million.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell to 3,309,750 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,321,750.
"Bottom line, the labor market still can't gain any lasting traction in light of the obvious economic challenges," Boockvar said.
Earlier this month, the Labor Department released its closely watched monthly employment report, showing much weaker than expected job growth in the month of August.
The report showed that employment increased by 96,000 jobs in August following a downwardly revised increase of 141,000 jobs in July. Economists had expected an increase of about 125,000 jobs.
Despite the weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent in August from 8.3 in July. The unemployment rate had been expected to come in unchanged.
However, the unexpected drop by the unemployment rate came amid a notable decrease by the size of the workforce, which shrank by 368,000 people.
by RTT Staff Writer
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