US jobless benefit claims drop by 14,000

Business | 14 Sep 2017 9:45 pm

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined slightly last week but still remained elevated as hurricane disruptions impacted layoffs for a second week. 

Applications for jobless benefits dropped by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 last week after surging to 298,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous week's increase of 62,000 had pushed claims to the highest level in two years. 

The less volatile four-week average for claims rose to 263,250 last week, the highest level in a year. 

Applications from Texas, recovering from Hurricane Harvey, totaled 51,988 last week, down by 11,800 from the previous week, but still far above the normal range of around 12,000 applications filed weekly in Texas. 

The number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits dropped by 7,000 to 1.94 million, 9.1 percent lower than a year ago. 

Economists closely watch unemployment claims, which serve as a proxy for layoffs. Even with recent increases, claims remain at levels signifying a strong labor market. 

Natural disasters can frequently cause spikes in benefit claims. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 drove the last huge increase in applications.-AP

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