Unemployment claims have dropped to their lowest level in five weeks, a positive sign ahead of Friday’s monthly unemployment figures.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment claims dropped 9,000 to 397,000 for the week ending Oct. 29, the Labor Department reported this morning.
The department will announce Friday how many jobs were added in October. Economists expect that employers have added too few jobs to change the unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. The economists are forecasting that the economy added about 90,000 non-farm payroll jobs in October, according to Bloomberg News.
The economy added a better-than-expected 103,000 non-farm jobs in September, the Labor Department announced in early October. But economists believe the 45,000 Verizon workers who returned to their jobs after striking in August boosted September’s figure.
Unemployment has remained persistent since declining from a high of 10.1 percent in October 2009. While there was improvement during 2010, it has flatlined this year.
The Labor Department also released this morning its Productivity and Costs report for the third quarter, the months of July to September. Non-farm labor productivity grew at a 3.1 percent annual rate, after declining the previous two quarters. Labor output and hours worked rose 3.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
Manufacturing sector productivity increased 5.4 percent in the third quarter, as output rose 4.7 percent and hours decreased 0.8 percent. In the durable goods sector, which includes cars and household appliances, productivity spiked 9.9 percent. But in the non-durable goods sector, like clothing, cosmetics and food, it increased 0.7 percent.