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October 10, 2019 11:15 AM, EDT

Jobless Claims Hit Three-Week Low

Jobs Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

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Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. unexpectedly declined to a three-week low despite a strike by General Motors Co. workers that continues to reverberate through supporting industries.

Jobless claims dropped by 10,000 to 210,000 in the week ended Oct. 5, according to Labor Department figures released Oct. 10. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 220,000. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, edged up to 213,750.

The number of initial claims is consistent with a tight labor market and the lowest jobless rate in five decades. It shows that manufacturing weakness, global growth concerns and slower business investment are having only a modest impact on the job market.

The report showed that the prior week’s 2,161 increase in Ohio’s initial claims was in manufacturing, which suggests some spillover effect from the GM strike. Claims in the latest week in Ohio declined 936.

The GM autoworkers’ strike began Sept. 15, and while striking workers are generally not entitled to receive unemployment benefits, individuals in related industries, such as parts suppliers, are eligible.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a speech Oct. 8 that “many indicators show a historically strong labor market,’’ citing solid job gains, low unemployment, and increasing prime-age labor force participation.

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