Initial claims for jobless benefits fell 71,000 last week to 199,000

Jobless claims fell sharply to a pandemic low of 199,000 last week, below pre-pandemic levels as employers curbed layoffs amid a tightening labor market.

Claims have slipped steadily since ticking up in late September, as the wave of Delta variant infections crested. The decline, along with near-record levels of job openings, signals strengthening demand for labor, said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

“Claims have been moving in the right direction and are sending a positive signal about the labor market. Businesses are wary of letting go of workers amid a severe labor shortage,” she said.

Employers added 531,000 jobs in October—the biggest monthly gain in three months—as the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6% from 4.8% a month earlier, the Labor Department reported. However, the U.S. economy is still missing more than four million jobs compared with February 2020.... Read More: WSJ