(Bloomberg) — Filings for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level since 1973 as workers affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma continued to return to their jobs, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week ended Oct. 14)

  • Jobless claims decreased by 22k to 222k (est. 240k), the lowest since March 1973
  • Period included Columbus Day holiday, giving people one less day to file claims Continuing claims fell by 16k to 1.89m in week ended Oct. 7 (data reported with one-week lag)
  • Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped to 248,250 from 257,750

Key takeaways
The larger-than-projected decrease in claims probably reflected difficulty adjusting for the Columbus Day holiday. At the same time, the report showed further declines in claims in hurricane- affected states. The storms initially led to a spike in applications in Texas and the southeastern U.S. in late August and early September.

The latest period also encompasses the reporting week that the Labor Department surveys for its October employment figures. Claims are at the lowest level in more than four decades, indicating employers have little desire to cut staffing levels amid a shortage of qualified workers.

Other details

  • Prior week’s reading was revised to 244,000 from 243,000
  • Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits fell to 1.3% from 1.4%
  • Applications slumped in Florida, Texas, Georgia and Michigan Claims were estimated only for the Virgin Islands last week, according to the Labor Department

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