WASHINGTON – New claims for unemployment benefits in the United States fell by 2,000 in the week ended Dec. 2 to a lower-than-expected 236,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The drop surprised experts, who had been expecting a seasonally adjusted 240,000 claims last week.
The rolling four-week average of claims, a more reliable indicator of trends in the labor market, decreased last week by 750 to 241,500, according to the Labor Department’s report.
Initial claims have been under 300,000 for 144 consecutive weeks. Economists say any reading below that level is indicative of a healthy labor market.
The number of claims drawn by people for longer than a week – which are known as continuing claims and are released with a one-week lag – fell by 52,000 to 1.91 million in the week ended Nov. 25.
The job market has remained strong during the first 10 and a half months of US President Donald Trump’s administration, with the headline unemployment rate ticking down to 4.1 percent in October, its lowest level in 17 years.