Applications for US Jobless Benefits Decrease

Fewer Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week as the labor market disruptions wrought by superstorm Sandy ebbed.

Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 23,000 to 393,000 in the week ended Nov. 24, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 390,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

The drop in claims indicates the job market in the mid- Atlantic region, which employs about 14 percent of U.S. workers, may be stabilizing after Sandy put some area residents out of work at the start of the month. Apart from the storm-related damage, job creation will probably be limited as companies navigate the global economic slowdown and U.S. fiscal outlook.

Claims are “going to be distorted for a period of time by the after-effects of the storm,” said James Shugg, a senior economist at Westpac Banking Corp. in London, who forecast applications would drop to 395,000. “We’ve been surprised by the strength of hiring, but we’re anticipating a sharply lower number for the payrolls in the next month because there’s not going to be a strong enough economic growth base.”

Estimates for first-time claims ranged from 350,000 to 430,000 in the Bloomberg survey of 49 economists. The previous week’s figure was revised to 416,000 from a previously reported 410,000.

via Bloomberg

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