(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week but remained elevated due to superstorm Sandy, the U.S. government reported Wednesday, a sign the storm is proving to be a substantial disruption to the labor market.
The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell 41,000 from the previous week, when the storm drove claims to their highest level in 18 months. The drop in claims only partially reverses the 90,000-claim increase registered last week, but department analysts said the economic impact of Sandy likely will be temporary.
The four-week moving average of jobless claims, considered a more reliable measure of labor-market trends because its smoothes weekly volatility, rose by 9,500 to 396,250.
Before Sandy, a huge storm that hit the east coast on October 29, leaving millions of homes and businesses without electricity, weekly jobless claims had fluctuated this year between 360,000 and 390,000. At the same time, employers added an average of almost 157,000 jobs per month, barely enough to reduce the unemployment rate, which was 7.9 percent in October.
But there are some signs the labor market is improving. Employers added 171,000 jobs in October, and hiring in August and September was stronger than initially estimated. The economy gained an average of 174,000 jobs per month in the July-September quarter, up from 67,000 a month in the April-June quarter.