U.S. jobless claims fall for second consecutive week

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims fell for the second week in a row, despite the uptick in applications in Southern states affected by the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

According to the jobs report from the Labor Department released on Thursday, national jobless claims decreased by 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted rate of 243,000. This rate, according to Fox Business, is a historically low number of claims.

Claims have stayed below 300,000 per week for more than two and a half years, a strong streak not seen since the early 1970s. Unemployment reached 4.2 percent, a number last reached in 2001. The Labor Department showed the advanced number of people claiming unemployment benefits in state programs dropped 52,791 to 1,570,107.

Jobless claims and unemployment benefits surged to about 298,000 claims at the beginning of September in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which blasted Texas and Louisiana. Claims remained high after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are not counted in national employment data, but are tallied for unemployment claims rates.

The U.S. economy continues to show strong employment numbers.