Jobless claims have dropped for the first time since Hurricane Sandy, which could be an indication that the storm’s impact has begun to fade. The Labor Department reported 393,000 unemployment claims last week, which was down from 416,000 in the weeks right after the storm. Today’s report also indicates that 3.3 million filers were on their second week or more of unemployment, which was 70,000 less than the previous week.
Earlier this month, many hourly workers who lived in areas affected by the super storm were put out of work because employers had to shut down during the recovery process. Many economists believe that the impact of the storm isn’t over completely yet. They expect that it will still take several more weeks before jobless claims fall back to where they were before the storm hit.
In addition to the dropping number of jobless claims, there are other signs that the labor market may be improving. According to the Labor Department, hiring is up and job cuts are down. However according to Capital Economics, only 75,000 jobs were added in November, which is less than half of the amount of jobs that were added in October. The unemployment rate continues to hover just under 8 percent.
Economists are also looking closely at the economy in light of this latest jobs report. The overall economy grew faster than initially thought during the third quarter, although both business and consumer spending were revised lower. According to the Commerce Department, the gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 2.7 percent, which was the fastest it has grown since the latter part of last year. Retailers also reported weak sales this month, and many of them blame that on Hurricane Sandy as well.