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US weekly jobless claims lower than expected

US weekly jobless claims lower than expected

Weekly jobless claims unexpectedly dropped last week, though the figures may have been thrown off by the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to Labor Department data released Thursday.

Jobless claims fell to 259,000 for the week ending on Sept. 16 — 23,000 fewer than the previous week's revised levels.

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The previous week's claims were revised to 282,000 from 284,000, according to the Labor Department.

Economists had expected claims might rise to 300,000, a figure that hasn't been reached for 133 weeks, according to Reuters. That's the longest stretch that claims have stayed under that benchmark since 1970.

The figures generally suggest the labor market remains strong, with some businesses struggling to find workers. But the figures have also been affected by the hurricanes.

In Texas — the state hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey — unadjusted claims fell by 23,549 from the previous week. The number of unemployment claims soared after the hurricane devastated swaths of southeast Texas late last month.

In Florida, however, jobless claims increased by 5,133 to 9,906 in the wake of Hurricane Irma, the Labor Department said.