Initial unemployment claims fell by 21,000 to 434,000 in the week ended 23 October the US Labour Department said in its weekly report yesterday. The previous week’s figures were revised up from 452,000 to 455,000. The claim figure is the lowest since the week ending 10 July.
The four-week moving average, which aims to smooth volatility in the data, fell by 5,500 to 453,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 458,750.
Yesterday’s weekly claim data is the last report before voters go to the polls for the midterm elections next Tuesday.
The stubbornly high unemployment rate is seen as a key issue. As polling day approaches, Democrats have fought to defend their economic policies in hopes of maintaining their majority in Congress.
Meanwhile, the number of continuing claims – those drawn by workers for more than one week in the week ended 16 October – declined by 122,000 to 4,356,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 4,478,000. Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.
The Federal Reserve is also believed to be considering a second round of quantitative easing. The Fed is expected to announce a new US Treasury bond purchase programme at the end of its two-day meeting on 3 November.