Fewer people seek jobless aid as hurricane impact fades

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week as the impact of last month’s hurricanes on the U.S. economy fades.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for U.S. unemployment aid fell 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 243,000. Applications fell in Texas and Florida, where Hurricanes Harvey and Irma inflicted heavy damage in late August and September. Applications spiked to 298,000 after Harvey hit Texas in late August.

The number of people seeking unemployment aid in Puerto Rico also fell, though that may reflect ongoing power outages and other damage, a department spokesman said. That has made it harder for residents to apply.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the decline points to a healthy job market. Businesses are optimistic about future demand and are holding onto their workers.

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