New filings for jobless claims dropped to another pandemic low last week as jobs remain plentiful while employers continue to compete for employees.
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 281,000 for the week ending Oct. 23, according to government data released Thursday. The same figure for the previous week was revised upwardly to 291,000.
After increasing in late September, most likely because of the residual effects of Hurricane Ida, layoffs of auto workers in Michigan and issues over accounting for claims in California, initial jobless claims fell for the fourth straight week, approaching their pre-pandemic level of 212,000 in March 2020.
The recent improvement in new filings for jobless benefits in October should give the market more reasons to expect a better October payroll report when it is released next week, after two somewhat disappointing reports in August and September.
As a result, our preferred measure for new jobless claims, the 13-week moving average, also declined for the same week to 336,000, also a new pandemic low, from 345,000 in the previous week.
Continuing claims in all programs declined to 2.8 million for the week ending Oct. 9 from 3.3 million in the previous week, and from 23.5 million a year ago.
This is most likely a sign of previously unemployed workers returning to work as companies continue to raise compensation and benefits to attract new workers.
Beneath the headline, claims for pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs—which expired in early September—led the decline, decreasing by 335,124 from 514,392 in the week ending Oct. 9.
States with the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending Oct. 16 were California (up by 9,748) and Tennessee (up by 1,688); states with the largest decreases were Virginia (down by 7,380), Michigan (down by 4,083) and Pennsylvania (down by 4,033).