Jobless claims fall to nearly 44-year low

Jobless claims fall to nearly 44-year low

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest level in more than 44 years as job growth marches on despite severe weather that caused job losses in September.

First-time claims for jobless benefits dropped 22,000, to a seasonally adjusted 222,000, for the week ending Oct. 14, the best showing since March 1973, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The four-week moving average of claims, a steadier measure of the labor market performance, fell 9,500, to 248,250.

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The economy shed 33,000 jobs last month — the first monthly loss in nearly seven years — after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria lashed the Gulf Coast as well as Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, leaving more than 100,000 restaurant workers without jobs. 

Economists expected the job market to bounce back from the storms, as this week's data shows that the effect of the hurricanes is already fading with claims in Texas and Florida showing improvement. 

Last month the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent, the lowest level since early 2001, as the job market maintained its overall strength.

Still, the process of filing claims was hampered by the lasting effect of the storms in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Another positive bit of news from the report shows that overall, U.S. workers getting benefits checks fell to 1.89 million, a drop of 16,000 in the week ended Oct. 7, the lowest level since December 1973.