Unemployment benefit claims worse than expected

First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 840,000 last week, higher than expected in another sign that the spike in job growth over the summer has cooled heading into the final part of the year.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting 825,000 new claims.

Though the total was a bit worse than Wall Street expected, it still represented a modest decline from the upwardly revised 849,000 from a week ago. It also was the lowest level of claims since the virus-induced shutdown in mid-March.

Claims have been above 800,000 every week since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, leading to the shutdown of the U.S. economy.

However, continuing claims again fell sharply, dropping by just over 1 million to 10.98 million, according to the Labor Department release. Continuing claims trail the headline weekly claims number by a week.

The insured unemployment rate, a basic measure of the workforce compared to those collecting benefits, also slid to 7.5% from 8.2%.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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