WASHINGTON (10/3/14)--Jobless claims and job cuts both fell in September, perhaps pointing to continued improvements to the labor market.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 8,000 for the week ending Sept. 27, the Labor Department reported Thursday, pushing the four-week moving average down to 294,750, its second-lowest mark since 2006 (Economy.com Oct. 2).
Further, the four-week moving average fell below 300,000 for the third straight week, the first time that has happened since before the economic crisis in 2008.
"Looking back at prior expansions, claims have stayed below 300,000 only for brief periods in early 2006 and late 1999 to early 2000," said Marisa Di Natale, Moody's analyst (Economy.com).
Continuing claims, or those to apply for unemployment for at least a second straight week, fell by 45,000 for the week ending Sept. 20 to 2.4 million. The four-week moving average for that metric fell by 20,000 to 2.44 million, which is a new post-recession low.
On the job-cuts front, companies announced 30,477 layoffs in September, which is the smallest amount posted in 14 years. September's number is 24% lower than the amount of layoffs in August, and 24% below the month's year-ago levels.
The entertainment and leisure industries recorded the highest number of layoffs, a change from prior months when information technology-related (IT) companies had reported the most. IT remains at the top of the list for total layoffs in 2014, according to Moody's.
"The most cited reason for layoffs this year has been restructuring, indicating companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of an improving business landscape," said Nate Kelley, Moody's analyst (Economy.com Oct. 2). "Aggregate demand is slowly improving, which should provide the juice for stronger hiring in the coming months."
Analysts now await today's job-adds report, which some expect to record a gain of about 210,000 jobs in nonfarm payrolls.
On Wednesday, ADP, a Wisconsin-based payroll service company, reported that the private sector added 213,000 jobs in September, a positive gain that was largely driven by hiring in goods-producing services (Economy.com Oct. 1).