NORMAN — Two new reports paint a better picture of the nation’s employment situation. On Thursday, the government reported that fewer people filed for first-time unemployment benefits.
The applications dropped 25,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted level of 370,000. Filings had jumped earlier to more than 450,000 last month following Superstorm Sandy.
The nation’s unemployment rate dropped slightly, too, falling from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent. It was the lowest rate in four years, and stocks spiked briefly on the news.
But the enthusiasm was short-lived. Most of the unemployment claims news came about because discouraged, jobless workers stopped looking for work. Thus, they were no longer counted among the unemployed.
Overall, fewer workers were receiving unemployment aid. Total recipients dropped almost 225,000 to just under 5 million in mid-November. Job creation in October totaled 171,000.
Without the superstorm, most economists thought the number would have risen to about 200,000. Even with the storm’s aftermath, analysts say the economy remains healthy and is creating jobs at a modest but steady pace.