Fewer people seek jobless aid as hurricane impact fades

FILE - In this April 22, 2015, file photo, a recruiter, left, shakes hands with a job seeker during a National Career Fairs job fair in Chicago. On Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, the U.S. Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits the week before. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

WASHINGTON — Fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week as the impact of last month's hurricanes on the U.S. economy fades.

THE NUMBERS: Applications for U.S. unemployment aid fell 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 243,000. Applications fell in Texas and Florida, where Hurricanes Harvey and Irma inflicted heavy damage in late August and September.

The number of people receiving benefits nationwide fell 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 1.89 million, the lowest level since late December 1973.

KEY DRIVERS: Applications had spiked to 298,000 after Harvey hit Texas in late August, but have mostly fallen since then. The number of people seeking unemployment aid in Puerto Rico also fell last week, though that may reflect ongoing power outages and other damage, a department spokesman said. That has likely made it harder for residents to apply.

The hurricanes forced thousands of businesses to shut down and cost the U.S. economy 33,000 jobs in September, the Labor Department said last week. But outside of the hurricane-impacted areas, the job market looks solid.

The unemployment rate fell in September to 4.2 percent, a 16-year low, from 4.4 percent in August, as many unemployed workers in parts of the country unaffected by the hurricanes found jobs.

THE TAKEAWAY: Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the decline points to a healthy job market. Businesses are optimistic about future demand and are holding onto their workers.

The hurricanes are expected to weigh on the economy in the July-September quarter. Economists forecast growth will slip to about 2 percent at an annual rate, down from 3.1 percent in the April-June quarter. But the economy should rebound as rebuilding and repairing damage from the hurricanes gets under way. Growth will likely reach 2.5 percent in the final three months of the year, analysts expect.

Must Read

TV executive predicts 500-show bubble destined to deflate

Aug 9, 2016

Television viewers know there's a mind-boggling array of shows to attempt to watch, but FX Networks chief executive John Landgraf predicts that change is coming

Turkish, Russian officials to discuss solution for Syria

Aug 10, 2016

Turkey's foreign minister says Turkish foreign ministry, military and intelligence officials will travel to Russia for discussions on finding a solution to the Syria conflict

If Trump can't get along with GOP, how will he govern?

Aug 9, 2016

Beyond the political fallout from Donald Trump's rocky relationship with party elders lies a fundamental reality: Should he win the presidency, the brash billionaire will have to work closely with the same GOP leaders he vilified on the campaign trail

People also read these

'American Crime Story' writers focusing on Hurricane Katrina

Aug 10, 2016

An executive producer behind 'American Crime Story,' the anthology series for FX, says they're taking 'great care' with casting of the season which will focus on Hurricane Katrina

TV executive predicts 500-show bubble destined to deflate

Aug 9, 2016

Television viewers know there's a mind-boggling array of shows to attempt to watch, but FX Networks chief executive John Landgraf predicts that change is coming

Rio authorities step up security after bus windows shattered

Aug 10, 2016

Military police in Rio de Janeiro are stepping up security at the Olympics after a bus carrying journalists had two of its windows shattered by a projectile and a bullet flew into the stables of the equestrian venue

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH