More Americans Than Forecast File for State Jobless Benefits

More Americans than expected filed for state unemployment benefits last week.

More Americans Than Forecast File for State Jobless Benefits
Job seekers stand on line at Natura Cosmeticos SA headquarters in the town of Cajamar, Sao Paulo State, Brazil. (Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg)

More Americans than expected filed for state unemployment benefits last week, underscoring churn in a labor market that continues to recover only gradually.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs totaled 751,000 in the week ended Oct. 31, down from an upwardly revised 758,000 in the prior week, Labor Department data showed Thursday. On an unadjusted basis, the number of applications was little changed.

More Americans Than Forecast File for State Jobless Benefits

Continuing claims -- or the total number of Americans claiming ongoing state unemployment assistance -- fell by 538,000 to 7.29 million in the week ended Oct. 24, the sixth straight decline. Still, the number of people claiming support in a federal program that offers extended assistance increased as more Americans exhausted their regular state benefits.

The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 735,000 initial claims and 7.2 million continuing claims. The higher-than-forecast new state claims reading reflected an outsize 23,200 increase in Illinois from the week before. Applications also accelerated in Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio.

The report comes amid a marathon week for the U.S., complete with a still-undecided presidential election, a Federal Reserve policy meeting, and the monthly jobs report. Applications for jobless benefits have declined in recent months, though they remain extremely high, as businesses continue to experience fallout from the pandemic.

The S&P 500 jumped at the open, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was little changed and the dollar fell.

The October jobs report, out Friday, is forecast to show 600,000 jobs were added last month and the unemployment rate declined further. The projected gain in payrolls, while solid, would mark a fourth consecutive month of moderating job growth. Data out Wednesday from ADP Research Institute showed companies in the U.S. added fewer jobs in October than forecast, though the two reports have often differed greatly in the last six months.

Nearly 4 million people claimed Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, the federal program that provides up to 13 additional weeks of jobless benefits, in the week ended Oct. 17. While the improvement in continuing claims has been partly due to Americans heading back to work, many unemployed have simply exhausted regular state benefits and shifted into the pandemic program.

Some states saw bigger declines in initial claims from the prior week, including Massachusetts, Georgia, New York, Michigan and Florida.

Separate from the headline number, initial applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or the federal program that provides jobless benefits to those not typically eligible like the self-employed, totaled 362,883 last week.

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