The Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. unexpectedly declined to a nearly nine-month low in the week ended October 14th.
The report said initial jobless claims fell to 198,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 211,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 212,000 from the 209,000 originally reported for the previous week.
With the unexpected dip, jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 194,000 in the week ended January 21st.
“Initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since January last week, a reminder – if we needed one – that layoffs remain very low,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average also edged down to 205,750, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 206,750.
The modest decrease pulled the four-week moving average down to its lowest level since hitting 203,250 in the week ended February 4th.
Meanwhile, the report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, rose by 29,000 to 1.734 million in the week ended October 7th.
With the increase, continuing claims reached their highest level since hitting 1.749 million in the week ended July 8th.
“If sustained, the higher level of continued claims would suggest that, while the labor market may be characterized by few layoffs, unemployed individuals are finding it more difficult to find new jobs,” said Vanden Houten.
The four-week moving average of continuing claims also climbed to 1,694,000, an increase of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,675,000.