The numbers: New filings for jobless benefit plunged by 71,000 to 199,000 in the seven days ended Nov. 20, the U.S. government said Wednesday. The report was released one day early because of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
This is the lowest level of initial claims since November 1969.
Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had estimated initial jobless claims would total a seasonally adjusted 260,000.
Unemployment filings have been steadily moving toward pre-crisis lows, when they were in the low 200,000s. They totaled as much as 900,000 a week at the start of the year.
The number of people already collecting state jobless benefits, meanwhile, fell by 60,000 to 2.05 million. These so-called continuing claims are also at a pandemic low.
Big picture: A few economists were expecting a big drop in claims based on seasonal adjustment factors related to the Thanksgiving holiday. They don’t think the low level will last. Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, thinks claims will rebound to about 260,000.
What are they saying: The level has moved below the 218,000 average seen in 2019, a “solidly positive” signal about the labor market, said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and S&P 500
were mixed in light holiday trading Wednesday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
moved higher on the sense the data supported a faster Federal Reserve retreat from its easy policy stance.