Hope for America’s jobs market as dole queues shorten to levels seen before superstorm Sandy

City A.M. Reporter
THE NUMBER of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits has fallen back to levels seen prior to October’s superstorm Sandy.

Data for last week’s new jobless claims, released yesterday, suggests a return to modest job growth after a storm-related set-back to the employment sector.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000 in the week ended 1 December, the US Labor Department said. It was the third straight weekly decline.

The drop brought them back to the 360,000 to 370,000 range they had been in before Sandy battered the east coast in late October. Economists had forecast claims falling to just 380,000.

The decline came too late to have any impact on a report on employment in November set for release today. Economists estimate the monster storm could subtract between 25,000 and 75,000 jobs from November’s nonfarm payrolls.

The closely watched report, which can set the tone for financial markets worldwide, is expected to show that payrolls rose only 93,000 last month after advancing 171,000 in October, according to a Reuters survey of economists. The unemployment rate is seen holding steady at 7.9 per cent.

Yesterday’s claims report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programmes after an initial week of aid dropped 100,000 to 3.21m in the week ended 24 November.

Yet a separate report, released yesterday by consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, showed planned layoffs at US firms rose nearly 20 per cent in November to their highest level in six months.