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Weekly demands for unemployment in the United States are rising more than expected

Job seekers are waiting in line to speak with representatives during a Choice Career Fair in Los Angeles.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased slightly more than expected last week, but the trend in claims continued to be consistent with strong labor market conditions.

Initial state unemployment benefit requirements increased 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 21[ads1]8,000 for the week ending Oct. 26, the Labor Department said Thursday. Last week's data was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had predicted that claims would rise to 215,000 this past week. The Labor Department said no states were estimated last week.

The four-week moving average of the first requirements, considered a better measure of labor market developments as it erodes week-to-week volatility, fell 500 to 214,750 last week.

The requirement data has no significance for the October Employment Report, which is scheduled to be published on Friday, as it falls outside the IP.

While the low level of demands suggests solid labor market conditions, job growth is expected to have slowed sharply in October due to a 40-day strike by workers at General Motors. Government data last Friday showed that 46,000 GM employees were unemployed at carmaker facilities in Michigan and Kentucky during the October wage figure.

Striking workers who do not receive pay cuts during the payroll survey period are treated as unemployed. The strike by members of the United Auto Workers Association, which ended last Friday, had a ripple effect on the auto industry.

Economists estimated that the work stoppage was reduced between 75,000 and 80,000 jobs from wage developments in October. As a result, the employment report is likely to show that only 89,000 jobs were added in October, down from 136,000 in September, according to a Reuters survey of economists.

Unemployment is expected to rise one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.6%. Even the discounting of the GM strike has slowed job growth in line with ebb demand and labor shortages.

The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates on Wednesday for the third time this year, but signaled a break in the relief cycle, which began in July when it cut borrowing costs for the first time since 2008. Fed leader Jerome Powell acknowledged the moderation in the pace of job growth this year, but said "the job market is still strong."

Thursday's claims report also showed that the number of people receiving benefits after a first week's assistance increased 7,000 to 1.69 million for the week ending October 19. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims increased 8,750 to 1,69 million.

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