Economic Report: Jobless claims fall to 212,000 in late October, still no sign of rising U.S. layoffs

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Bloomberg News/Landov

Companies are still hiring and layoffs remain near historic lows even though the U.S. economy has slowed.

The numbers: The number of people who applied for U.S. jobless benefits in mid-October fell slightly and clung near a 50-year low, showing the resilience of strong labor market that’s held up remarkably well in the face of a slowing economy.

Initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, fell by 6,000 to 212,000 in the seven days ended Oct. 19, the government said Thursday.

Economists polled by MarketWatch estimated new claims would total a seasonally adjusted 215,000.

Read: Weak unions, globalization not to blame for shrinking slice of income pie for workers

What happened: Actual or unadjusted jobless claims fell the most in New York, Michigan and Texas.

The decline in Michigan reflected the end of a month-long strike at General Motors. Some workers may have been able to collect benefits while they were out of work, though they’d have to give the money back if they received backpay for the time they missed.

The more stable monthly average of new claims dipped by 750 to 215,000. The four-week average gives a more stable read into labor-market conditions than the more volatile weekly number.

The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, slipped by 1,000 to 1.68 million.

Read: Meet the lonely economist who thinks the Fed might just leave interest rates unchanged

Big picture: Companies still aren’t laying off many workers or cutting lots of jobs even though the economy has slowed. Many firm still complain about a lack of skilled workers when they do look to fill open positions.

The strong labor market, marked by the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, represents an insurance policy of sorts against recession. Most Americans who want a job have one and they’re spending enough to keep the economy growing.

Read: U.S. adds 136,000 jobs in September, unemployment rate hits 50-year low

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.17% and S&P 500 SPX, +0.28% were set to open modestly higher in Thursday trades

The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.05% was little changed at 1.76%. The yield has been cut nearly in half over the past year.