Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance in Sharpest Jump since Last September

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 242,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended March 31 an INCREASE of 24,000 from the prior week;
  • The number of initial claims for the week ended March 24 was REVISED UP 3,000 to 218,000;
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims ROSE 3,000 to 228,250;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.147 percent of employment, UP from 0.145 the previous week;
  • The number of continued claims –individuals who have been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,808,000 for the week ended March 24, DOWN 64,000 from the previous week’s UPWARDLY REVISED 1,872,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims DECLINED 13,500 to 1,848,250;

Data Source: Department of Labor 

Trends:

  • The increase in the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance was the largest since the hurricane-inflated 62,000 for the week ended last September 2;
  • The number of first time claims for unemployment insurance was below 250,000 for the 12th straight week.
  • Continued claims for unemployment insurance dropped to the lowest level since December 29, 1973 when it was 1,805,000.

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

Initial unemployment insurance claims put their downward drift on hold with a relatively sharp increase of 24,000 for the last week of March. The jump though did not come in the survey week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the monthly Employment Situation report. Survey week data showed an increase in initial claims of 7,000, a modest rise (except for the individuals who were forced to apply for benefits).

The calendar and freak Spring snows may have affected the numbers reported Thursday. Filings for unemployment insurance frequently follow the weather with temporary closings due to storms so the unusually large increase should be no cause for alarm…. unless it continues. That total first-time claims have been under 250,000 for 24 of the last 26 weeks says a lot about the state of the labor.

Tomorrow’s BLS report is not expected to be as robust as the report for February which showed an increase of 313,000 jobs. Indeed, the consensus among economist is for an increase of 195,000 jobs. That job growth has been solid – a monthly average of 191,000 – without any significant movement in earnings remains an enigma, but data in last month’s BLS report suggested almost everyone who entered the labor force in February found a job meaning there may be no need to hike wages to fill open job slots.

The consensus forecast is for a slight drop in the unemployment rate, to 4.0 percent – the lowest since December 2000 — from 4.1 percent where it has been stuck for five months.

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. (Tomorrow, Friday April 6 at 8:45 am EDT, he will discuss the Employment Situation report for March which will be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 am

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