1st Time and Continued Unemployment Claims Tick Up

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior EconomistHighlights

  • There were 239,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 4, UP 10,000 from the prior week;
  • The number of initial claims for the week ended October 26 was unchanged at 229,000.
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims FELL 1,250 to 231,250, the sixth straight weekly decline;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.150 percent of employment, down from 0.151 percent one week earlier;
  • The number of continued claims – reported on a one-week lag – was up 17,000 for the week ended October 19 to 1,901,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continuing claims DROPPED 750 to 1,895,250 – the 12th decline in the last 13 weeks.

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

With initial claims for unemployment jumping by 2,000 in Puerto Rico, first-time claims went up by 10,000 the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

That Puerto Rico had an outsized impact on the number of claims nationally is testimony to how low claims have been of late as employers seem to be jealously guarding their workers. At the same time the steady decline in the moving average of continued claims, suggests hiring is increasing and that laid off workers are a prime talent pool.

All else being equal (and it never is) the data suggesting a tighter labor market should mean higher wages though average hourly and weekly earnings, as reported last week in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Employment Situation release did not reflect that.

Higher earnings tend to fuel inflation by increasing demand, exactly what the Federal Reserve is looking for. When the Federal Open Market Committee met last month, it held interest rates steady but is expected to increase rates when it meets next on December 12-13.

December traditionally had not been a meeting at which the FOMC raised rates, fearing the impact on holiday retail shopping but the old “rules” are just that, old in a new economic paradigm. FOMC actions could shift again when President Trump’s choice to head the Federal Reserve, current Fed Governor Jerome K. Powell becomes Fed Chair (assuming Senate confirmation. That transition would take place at the end of January when the term of current Fed Chair Janet Yellen expires.

You can hear Mark Lieberman every Friday at 6:20 am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124. You can follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.


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