Unemployment claims fall to lowest level in 43 years, despite hurricanes

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The total number of laid-off workers receiving unemployment benefits fell to 1.89 million at the end of September, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, the lowest such mark in nearly 44 years.

And new claims for unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to 243,000 in the first full week of October, according to the agency, as the job market bounces back from hurricane damage.

Forecasters had expected jobless claims to drop to 252,000.

Low jobless claims are a good sign. They indicate that layoffs are rare, and accordingly that job creation is strong.

Prior to the landfall of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, claims had been running at ultra-low rates. With Texas and Florida regaining their footing, claims again appear to be sinking to levels that indicate robust job creation.

Economists calculate that new claims below the 300,000 mark indicate that unemployment will remain stable or fall.

Good claims numbers, which are released weekly, are one of the factors that will reassure officials in the Trump administration and at the Federal Reserve that the jobs recovery is intact, even though the hurricanes generated net job losses in September.

Minutes from the Fed’s September monetary policy meeting, released Wednesday, suggested that the central bank still sees the economy as healthy enough to justify raising rates again this year.