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Jobless claims surge to 2-year high after Hurricane Harvey

By Allen Cone
Jobless claims surge to 2-year high after Hurricane Harvey
A museum is surrounded by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey on August 31, near Houston, Texas. Photo by Master Sgt. Jason Robertson/U.S. Air Force/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 7 (UPI) -- The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased to the highest level in more than two years as applications in Texas surged after Hurricane Harvey, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Weekly jobless claims through last Saturday were 298,000 -- an increase of 62,000 from the previous week, the department said.

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The previous high was recorded in April 2015.

Claims similarly increased 81,000 in 2012 after Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast, and 96,000 after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. Another major hurricane, Irma, is now headed toward Florida.

In Texas, claims increased from 12,105 to 63,742 in the aftermath of Harvey, which hit the state on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane. In Louisiana, applications rose by nearly 300 as the storm reached there five days after Texas as a tropical storm.

Excluding the storm-affected areas, the report showed, the job market remains strong.

"Claims so far suggest that the hit to the national job market from Harvey will be limited," Gus Faucher, PNC chief economist, told The Hill. "Monthly job growth weakened in the wakes of Katrina and Sandy, but did not outright decline."

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The four-week moving average of claims increased by 13,500 to 250,250.

The advance seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 1.4 percent as of Aug. 26 -- unchanged from the previous week.

The unemployment rate was 4.4 percent last month, a Labor Department report said last week.

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