The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, but the data continued to be influenced by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, muddying the labor market picture in the near term.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 259,000 for the week ended Sept. 16, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 fewer applications than previously reported.
A Labor Department official said Harvey and Irma affected claims for Texas and Florida. Unadjusted claims for Texas decreased 23,549 last week, the second straight weekly drop.
Claims in Texas surged in the wake of Harvey, which disrupted oil, natural gas and petrochemical production, leaving some workers temporarily unemployed.
Unadjusted claims for Florida rose 5,133 last week. In addition, the Labor Department estimated claims for South Carolina and the Virgin Islands last week.
Economists polled by Reuters