The total number of out-of-work Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell to 1.89 million for the month of September, the lowest such mark in nearly 44 years, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.
New claims for unemployment fell 15,000 to 243,000, as the job market bounces back from hurricane devastation faster than analysts predicted.
Fewer unemployment claims indicate a strengthening job market, as layoffs are rare and job creation is burgeoning.
Fewer people are now receiving unemployment benefits than any time since December of 1973 when the total workforce was much smaller. That is a direct indicator of the optimistic trajectory of the current economy and the continued availability of new positions for laid-off workers.
Claims were lowering steadily before the onset of Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria and first-time claims in the states most affected by the storms are still high, but have fallen in recent weeks.
“The data suggest that payrolls will bounce back quickly after last month’s hurricane-related weakness and that the underlying trend in employment growth remains strong — more than strong enough to keep the unemployment rate declining,” noted Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High-Frequency Economics.
Thus, despite the fact that jobs fell in September due to the hurricanes, the economy is still running strong. Analysts say new claims below 300,000 indicate that unemployment numbers will remain stable or fall.
Minutes from the Fed’s September Monetary Policy Meeting reveal that it still sees the economy as strong enough to increase interest rates slightly.