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Weekly Unemployment Claims Rise to Almost 900,000

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The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 900,000 last week, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The increase largely reflected a spike in initial claims among part-time workers.

The forecast from economists had called for claims to come in at a seasonally adjusted 800,000.

Weekly applications for jobless benefits climbed by 8,000 to almost 900,000 in the week ended Oct. 6, a Labor Department report showed on Thursday.

Meanwhile, payrolls increased by 192,000 jobs in September, more than economists had forecast. The unemployment rate rose to 4.7 percent from a 17-year low of 4.6 percent a month earlier.

Initial claims are the first government reports to track the health of the labor market. They reflect the pace of layoffs and can indicate whether companies are worried about stiffer competition or are having trouble finding workers. The pace of hiring has been solid, thanks largely to improving consumer and business confidence, suggesting the labor market is staying strong despite a deepening global economic slowdown. Claims below 400,000 are considered a sign of a healthy labor market.

The spike in applications last week reflected a jump in the number of employers responding to the government’s seasonal adjustment process.

Including the four-week moving average, initial claims increased by 10,500 to 868,500 in the week ended Oct. 6.

Initial claims tend to fall in the third quarter as warm weather encourages businesses to hire early. And economists are forecasting a sustained decline in claims through early next year as the industry exits the warmer months and heads into the traditionally cold winter months.

Average initial claims in September were the lowest since November 1973.

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