The number of workers making an initial filing for unemployment benefits fell by 13,000 last week to 317,000, marking the lowest reading in a month, according to the Labor Department. The decline occurred even as the impact of the California wildfires added 3,000 jobless claims to the toll.
However, the 4-week moving average of new claims which smoothes out irregularities and one-time incidents climbed by 2,000 to 329,750, reaching their highest level since mid-April. Initial claims between 300,000 and 325,000 are considered to be within a healthy range, while levels over 350,000 signal weakness in the job market.
Workers continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped by 4,000 in the week ended October 27 to 2.58 million. The 4-week moving average of continuing jobless claims grew by 16,000 to 2.55 million.
Unemployment claims have remained fairly steady during the past couple months, despite widespread layoffs in the mortgage industry stemming from subprime unraveling.