Case Shiller Home Prices Index Staggers in October


By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights:

  • Case Shiller CoreLogic 20-city index FELL in October for the first time in two years, dropping 0.1 percent [the first draft of the Case Shiller report showed a decline in August which was revised].
  • The 10-city index was UP 0.04 percent, the weakest month-month change since October 2016 when it fell 0.11 percent
  • The national index INCREASED 0.10 percent, an improvement since September (when it rose just 0.06 percent);
  • Index ROSE in just nine of the 20 cities surveyed in October; in September the index improved in eight cities;
  • While the index rose year-year in all 20 cities surveyed, the year-year increase in October was weaker in 12 cities than it had been in September

Trends:

  • All three index readings remained above their previous peak;
  • The National Index set a record high for the 22nd straight month;

Data Source: S&P Case Schiller/Core Logic

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Growth in home values, measured by the Case Shiller Core Logic Home Price Index moved sideways in October, barely increasing in the 10-city index but slipping in the 20-city metric. Nationally the index was essentially flat.

In the last year, the national index is down 10.3 percent.

The data suggest realtors will continue to struggle with home sales as even empty nesters are likely to hold on to their nest-egg as the price of homes staggers.

What’s likely at work here is the year-old tax act which reduced the tax advantage that came with home ownership by capping both the mortgage interest and local property tax deductions.

Indeed, home price growth according to both the Case-Schiller 10- and 20-city index has been slowing since April. Nationally, home price growth had been slowing since May; October’s reading marked the first month-month uptick since April.

The October Case-Shiller home price Index report covered the same month in which the National Association of Realtors found the median price of an existing single-family home fell 1.9 percent to $280,800, the lowest since May. (The median price, according to the NAR, rose 3.8 percent in November to $291,400.)

Sales of existing single-family homes fell for six straight months from April through September before edging up in October and November.

The price index slipped 1.1 percent in Seattle, the most of any city surveyed, followed by declines of 0,7 percent in San Francisco, 0.6 percent in Portland and 0.5 percent in Cleveland.  The price index rose 0.7 percent in Phoenix, 0.4 percent in New York and by 0.3 percent in three cities (Charlotte, Las Vegas, and Tampa).

Prices, according to the Case Shiller survey fell 0.3 percent month-month in the Midwest and West while increasing in the South and Northeast, 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent respectively. The index is heavily weighted to the South and West.

Year-year prices rose 12.8 percent in Las Vegas, 7.9 percent in San Francisco, 7.7. percent in Phoenix and 7.3 percent in Seattle.

While the slower price increases could have a positive impact on home sales, those sales still face challenges with increasing mortgage rates.

Hear Mark Lieberman this Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio’s Morning Briefing, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 am Eastern Time. You can follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

1st Time Unemployment Claims Increase


By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 214,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended December 15, an INCREASE of 8.000 from the prior week’s unrevised report.
  • The four-week moving average of first time claims FELL 2,750 to 222,000;
  • Four week moving average represented 0.142 percent of employment, DOWN from 0.143 the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,688,000 for the week ended December 8, UP 27,000 from the previous week’s upwardly REVISED 1,661,000 (from 1,631,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 750 to 1,665,750.

Trends:

  • From mid-November to mid-December, first-time claims FELL 11,000; the four-week moving average of first-time claims ROSE 3,250
  • Year-to-date, first-time claims are down 4.9 percent from the same period last year.
  • The increase in first-time claims followed two week-week decline;

Data Source: Department of Labor



How Scrooge-like.

As we head into Christmas week, the number of first time claims for unemployment insurance (translation: layoffs) rose, meaning at least 214,000 individuals (and their families) face the prospect of a bleak holiday season.

But, unsentimental businesses — recommendations from HR professionals notwithstanding – don’t look at the calendar when making financial decisions (see GM layoff plans), Those same businesses can’t control externalities such as the California camp fire. Indeed, layoffs –claims – in the Golden State increased almost one thousand (not seasonally adjusted in the last week while first-time claims in Massachusetts rose by slightly more than 1,000.

That’s said, first time claims in Illinois and Michigan fell 1,911 and 1,423 respectively.

With economists warning of the onset of a recession, those declines could become fewer and fewer and, at the same time, falling stock prices could touch off a scramble to improve profits by reducing expenses translated as jobs.

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.

Home Sales in November Up for Second Straight Month

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By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • The pace of existing home sales – closed sales — ROSE 1.9 percent, 100,000, in November to a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 5.32 million;
  • Median price of an existing single-family home ROSE 0.7 percent, $1,900, to $257,000;
  • Year-year the median price is up 4.0 percent or $9,800;
  • Number of homes available for sale FELL 110,000 or 6.3 percent to 1.74 million;
  • The months’ supply of homes for sale in November was DOWN 0.4 months to 3.9 months.

Trends:

  • Existing home sales ROSE for the second straight month after falling for six months in a row;
  • Year-year sales were DOWN 7.0 percent, the ninth month in a row year-year sales have slipped;
  • Number of homes for sale DECLINED for the fourth straight month, to the lowest level since March; the steepest month-month decline since last December;
  • The median price of an existing single-family home ROSE for the first time in five months;

Data Source: National Association of Realtors: (NAR)

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Realtors weren’t exactly popping champagne corks though they might have been as existing single family home sales rose for the second straight month for the first time since February-March of this year. Even so, the level of home sales in November was 5 percent below March.

The National Association of Realtors’ November report, though positive, suggested future concerns as the number of homes for sale dropped to the lowest level in eight months, bringing to mind realtor complaints earlier this year of weak inventory.

(The pending home sales index for September showed an increase which forecast the sales report for November. The PHSI for October tumbled 2.6 percentage points. In the last six months, the PHSI fell four times – and existing home sales dropped four times in the period.)

Looking deeper at the November closings report, it chronicled the median price of existing home sales which showed four month-month decline which did not send sales up suggesting home buyers are not driven by prices.

The same fundamentals have been in effect for virtually the entire year, overshadowed by tax law changes which eliminated most of the tax incentives for homeownership.

The report noted home sales fell only in the West which, coincidentally, was the only census regions which saw the median price of an existing single family home fall – down for the fourth time in the last five months (the median price was flat month-month in the fifth).

Would-be homebuyers are still plagued by weak earnings growth and, with the odds of a recession in the near future growing, memories of the housing downturn a decade ago as well as rising interest rates.

Ironically, the prospect of higher rates might actually boost sales as buyers rush to act before rates go higher.

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

Construction Activity Edges Up in November on Multi-Family Strength

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • Home building activity, measured by housing permits and starts IMPROVED in November, led by multi-family activity;
  • The seasonally adjusted annual rate of multi-family starts ROSE 21.7 percent while single-family starts FELL 4.6 percent;
  • Permit activity followed the same pattern: permits for single-family homes inched up 0.1 percent while permits for multi-family housing ROSE 14.8 percent; combi9ned, permits were up 5.0 percent;
  • The rate of housing completions though ROSE 0.4 percent, though single-family completions FELL 5.4 percent from October while multi-family completions ROSE 17.2 percent.

Trends:

  • The month-month increase in total permits was the strongest since October 2017;
  • The increase in the pace of multi-family permits was the strongest since March;
  • Single-family starts fell to the lowest level since May 2017.

Data Source: Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development 

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Census Bureau data on housing permits and starts provided the appropriate backdrop to Monday’ report the Housing Market Index (aka builder confidence index) tumbled for the second straight month, down to 56 (out of 100), a drop of 12 points or almost 18 percent in the last two months.

The National Association of Home Builders, which compiles the index, attributed the decline to concerns over affordability though prices for lumber – a major component of home building – are near their lowest levels of the year.

The Housing Market Index, NAHB’s yardstick for builder confidence fell to 56, the weakest since May 2015 but still in positive territory. Any reading above 50 is seen as noting confidence.

The NAHB has, in the past few months, excoriated the Administration’s new tariff proposals which affect, among things, lumber prices. At the time the tariffs were announced, the NAHB warned the higher duties “could have major ramifications for the housing industry. With housing costs on the rise, this action translates into a tax increase on housing that will rise even more significantly on Jan. 1 when the tariff rate jumps to 25 percent.”

The tariffs the NAHB came “on top of the current 20 percent tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada. The lumber tariffs have already added thousands of dollars to the price of a typical single-family home.”

Permits and starts were especially hard hit in the West, the scene of devastating forest firms. Permits rose 1.6 percent from October, but year-year are off 11 percent in the region. November starts in the West were down 14.2 percent from October and off 18.4 percent from November 2017,

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday at 6:20 am on POTUS Morning Briefing, Sirius-XM 124. You can follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

1st Time Unemployment Claims Plunge

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 206,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended December 8, a DECREASE of 27.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report (231,00 to 233,000).
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims FELL 3,750 to 224,740;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.143 percent of employment, DOWN from 0.146 the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,631,000 for the week ended December 1, DOWN 5,000 from the previous week’s upwardly REVISED 1,636,000 (from 1,631,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 2,500 to 1,665,750.

Trends:

  • The drop in first-time claims was the largest since the week ended January 18 (down 46,000);
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims dropped for the first time in five weeks;
  • The drop in the four-week moving average of 1,665,750 continued claims was the first in five weeks;

Data Source: Department of Labor 

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On the heels of Tuesday’s report showing an uptick in both job openings and hires, the weekly report on first-time unemployment insurance claims plunged for the week ended last Saturday.

The report likely reflects seasonal part-time hiring, a trend observed in last week’s Employment Situation report which showed both retail and temp jobs increase. The number of retail jobs increased in November by the largest amount since May and temp jobs were up for the fifth straight month.

The drop in claims in California (6,900 not seasonally adjusted) was a contributing factor. Initial claims in California shot up more than 29,000 one week earlier in the wake of devastating forest fires.

Still, the improvement in claims doesn’t automatically mean the jobs picture has emerged from the doldrums which saw the number of first-time claims jump from 210,000 at the beginning of October to 233,000 two weeks ago. The announcement of major labor layoffs at General Motors may have spooked other employers who see the end of the economic expansion which began in September 2010.

While “recession” has emerged from whispers to a regular part of the economic discussion, trouble signs are hardly hidden. GM’s announcement coupled with business plan changes at Ford put the auto industry in the economic crosshairs and the nation’s other major industry, housing. Continues to struggle, so much so that the Housing Market Index last month plummeted in November to the lowest level in more than two years. The December reading is due next week.

According to both Fortune and Forbes, the tariffs put into effect by the Trump Administration have resulted in cuts in manufacturing.

Falling stock prices could touch off a scramble to improve profits by reducing expenses translated as jobs

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.

1st Time Unemployment Claims Show Modest Dip; Longer Trends Not Encouraging

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 231,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended December 1, a DECREASE of 4.000 from the prior week’s unrevised report
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims ROSE 4,250 to 228,000;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.146 percent of employment, UP from 0.143 the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,631,000 for the week ended November24, DOWN 74,000 from the previous week’s downwardly REVISED 1,705,000 (from 1,710,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 250 to 1,667,000.

Trends:

  • The drop in first-time claims was the first in four weeks;
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims increased for the fourth straight week, the eighth time in the last 10 weeks, to its highest level since April
  • The four-week moving average of 1,667,000 continued claims is the highest level for this average in ten weeks.

Data Source: Department of Labor

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The labor market has taken on a decidedly different appearance in the last few weeks as noted by Thursday’s report on first-time unemployment insurance claims.

Initial claims, though down in the last week, have increased in three of the last four weeks and substantially, up 3 percent 2 percent and 4 percent before dropping by 2 percent. From mid-October to mid-November, claims rose 15,000, itself a jump of 7 percent and the largest mid-month to mid-month increase in a year.

The four-week moving average of first time claims also increased from mid-October to mid-November, up 9,000 or 4.3 percent to the highest since September 2017.

The increases don’t suggest alarm but taken with the higher levels of continued claims, a surrogate for hiring (more continued claims suggest fewer individuals getting job offers as a way to get off unemployment rolls) and there could be cause for concern.

Those concerns were noted in forecasts for tomorrow’s employment situation report. The median forecast is for 190,000 new payroll jobs, down from the 250,000 new jobs reported for October and below the average number of new jobs each month this year: 213,00

Though the unemployment rate is expected to remain at 3.7 percent, the year-year growth in average hourly earnings is also expected to remain at October 3.0 percent suggesting the tighter labor market is not pushing wages up.

We can expect retail hiring to show an increase in November as stores ramp up for holiday shoppers but given that retail is the lowest paying job sector, an increase in those jobs would likely adversely affect the average growth.

You can hear Mark Lieberman tomorrow (Friday, December 7) at 8:45 am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.

Unemployment Insurance Claims Remain Low; Data Suggest Labor Woes

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 214,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 3 a DECREASE of 1.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report.
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims WAS DOWN 750 to 213,750.
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.137 percent of employment, UNCHANGED from the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,623,000 for the week ended October 27, DOWN 8,000 from the previous week’s UNREVISED 1,631,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 7,500 to 1,633,250.

Trends:

  • Four-week moving average of continued claims has now declined for 13 straight weeks
  • The year-to-date average of initial claims for unemployment insurance is 4.9 percent below the level of a year ago.
  • The 1,623,000 continued claims are the lowest level for continued claims since July 28, 1973, when it was 1,603,000.
  • The 4-week moving average of 1,633,250 continued claims is at the lowest level since August 11, 1973, when it was 1,627,250.

Data Source: Department of Labor 

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The strong labor picture didn’t help Republicans in the House, but it may have been a factor from the GOP in extending its control of the Senate, according to polls, put health care on the top of their list of issues which could impact their vote.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 3 continued to hover in a narrow range but permits more significantly continued claims fell again suggesting those on the unemployment rolls are finding jobs.

That said, job openings, according to Tuesday’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dipped slightly at the end of September to just over 7 million, from just under 7.3 million at the end of August. Hires in September dropped as well, 5.7 million in September from 5.9 million in August. The decline in job openings could suggest employment may have peaked as the unemployment rate in October remained at 3.7 percent.

The JOLTS report, taken together with eh claims data, suggests a widening of the skills gap between those available and looking for work and the types of jobs.

In fact, the number of unemployed per job opening rose again in September, up to 11.8 from 1.17 – the third straight monthly increase.

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.

Economy Adds 250K jobs in October; Unemployment Rate Holds at 3.7%; Earnings Up

 

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

 

Highlights

  • Number of payroll jobs INCREASED 250,000 in October
  • Unemployment rate in October REMAINED AT7 percent;
  • Average weekly earnings INCREASED $4.35 in October to $941.85, a 3.3 percent year-year gain, strongest annual increase since August 2010
  • Average hourly earnings GREW 5¢, in October a 3.0 percent annual increase
  • Private sector jobs INCREASED 246,000; Government payrolls were up 4,000;
  • Number of multiple jobholders INCREASED 176,000, suggesting 7 of every 10 new jobs went to individuals who were not already working
  • Prior month job totals were essentially unchanged: the number of new jobs in September was revised down 16,000 to 118,000 but the number of new jobs in August was revised up 16,000 to 286,000;
  • The number of persons unemployed GREW 111,000 to 6.075 million while the number of people employed INCREASED 600,000; The Labor Force, therefore, GREW 711,000;
  • The number of persons not in the labor force fell 487,000;
  • Labor force participation rate IMPROVED to 62.9 percent, the level it had reached in July; the Employment-Population ration (EPOP) GREW to 60.6 percent, highest since January 2009;
  • By sector number of manufacturing jobs INCREASED 32,000; the number of construction jobs was UP 30,000 and the number of healthcare jobs INCREASED 46,700;

Trends:

  • Payroll jobs were up for the 97th straight month
  • Construction jobs reached their highest level since March 2008 (127 months); manufacturing jobs reached their highest level since December 2008;
  • In a statistical quirk, even with revisions, the total number of payroll jobs for September remained at 149,500

Data Source  Bureau of Labor Statistics

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If incumbents designed an employment situation report to be released just four days before election day, they couldn’t have come up with a better report than the data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

The BLS report showed the number of jobs up in virtually every industry sector with the unemployment rate remaining at 3.7 percent, an almost 49-year low (the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in December 1969).

Even average weekly earnings rose to a 3.3 percent year-year growth at $941.35, the fastest pace since August 201 (3.4 percent year-year). When earnings started to climb a few months ago, one of the reasons was that the number of low-paying retail and leisure-and-hospitality jobs had been declining and were not pulling down the average. But those two job categories grew 44,400 in September (about one of every six new jobs) while wages jumped.

The improvement should be a perfect platform for incumbents – Republican or Democratic – yet Republicans at least continue to campaign against “job-killing” Obamacare even though since Obamacare became effective in January 2014, the economy has added 12,376,000 jobs – an 8.9 percent increase.

One of the few negatives in the October jobs report was the increase in Black unemployment rate which grew from 6.0 percent in September to 6.2 percent. The improving labor market was also not kind to persons with a college degree: the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.0 percent and for high school graduates with no college rose to 4.0 percent from 3.7 percent.

The strengthening labor market drew 606,000 persons back to the labor force in October an increase of 20,000 over September.

Though Hurrican Michael made landfall in Florida during the reference period for both the household and establishment surveys, it had “no discernible effect” on the surveys. The household survey determines the unemployment rate and the establishment survey provides the count of new jobs. According to the BLS, the response rates for the surveys “were within normal ranges>”

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday morning at 6:20 am on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM 124. You can follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

Economy Adds 250K jobs in October; Unemployment Rate Holds at 3.7%; Earnings Up

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • Number of payroll jobs INCREASED 250,000 in October
  • Unemployment rate in October REMAINED at 3.7 percent;
  • Average weekly earnings INCREASED $4.35 in October to $941.85, a 3.3 percent year-year gain, strongest annual increase since August 2010
  • Average hourly earnings GREW 5¢, in October a 3.0 percent annual increase
  • Private sector jobs INCREASED 246,000; Government payrolls were up 4,000;
  • Number of multiple jobholders INCREASED 176,000, suggesting 7 of every 10 new jobs went to individuals who were not already working
  • Prior month job totals were essentially unchanged: the number of new jobs in September was revised down 16,000 to 118,000 but the number of new jobs in August was revised up 16,000 to 286,000;
  • The number of persons unemployed GREW 111,000 to 6.075 million while the number of persons employed INCREASED 600,000; The Labor Force, therefore, GREW 711,000;
  • The number of persons not in the labor force fell 487,000;
  • Labor force participation rate IMPROVED to 62.9 percent, the level it had reached in July; the Employment-Population ration (EPOP) GREW to 60.6 percent, highest since January 2009;
  • By sector number of manufacturing jobs INCREASED 32,000; the number of construction jobs was UP 30,000 and the number of healthcare jobs INCREASED 46,700;

Trends:

  • Payroll jobs were up for the 97th straight month
  • Construction jobs reached their highest level since March 2008 (127 months); manufacturing jobs reached their highest level since December 2008;
  • In a statistical quirk, even with revisions, the total number of payroll jobs for September remained at 149,500

Data Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics 

Image result for employment situation report

If incumbents designed an employment situation report to be released just four days before election day, they couldn’t have come up with a better report than the data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

The BLS report showed the number of jobs up in virtually every industry sector with the unemployment rate remaining at 3.7 percent, an almost 49-year low (the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in December 1969).

Even average weekly earnings rose to a 3.3 percent year-year growth at $941.35, the fastest pace since August 201 (3.4 percent year-year). When earnings started to climb a few months ago, one of the reasons was that the number of low-paying retail and leisure-and-hospitality jobs had been declining and were not pulling down the average. But those two job categories grew 44,400 in September (about one of every six new jobs) while wages jumped.

The improvement should be a perfect platform for incumbents – Republican or Democratic – yet Republicans at least continue to campaign against “job-killing” Obamacare even though since Obamacare became effective in January 2014, the economy has added 12,376,000 jobs – an 8.9 percent increase.

One of the few negatives in the October jobs report was the increase in Black unemployment rate which grew from 6.0 percent in September to 6.2 percent. The improving labor market was also not kind to persons with a college degree: the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.0 percent and for high school graduates with no college rose to 4.0 percent from 3.7 percent.

The strengthening labor market drew 606,000 persons back to the labor force in October an increase of 20,000 over September.

The BLS report noted Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida during the reference period for both household and establishment surveys (the household survey produce the unemployment rate and the establishment survey determines the number of jobs). According to the BLS, the storm “had no discernible effect” on either survey and  respo0nse rates to the surveys “were within normal ranges.”

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday morning at 6:20 am on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM 124. You can follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

Unemployment Claims Continue to Show Labor Strength

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 214,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended October 20 a DECREASE of 2.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report.
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims WAS UP 1,750 to 213,750.
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.137 percent of employment, UP from the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,631,000 for the week ended October 20, DOWN 7,000 from the previous week’s downwardly REVISED 1,638,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 6,250 to 1,640,750.

Trends:

  • Four-week moving average of continued claims has now declined for eleven straight weeks
  • The year-to-date average of initial claims for unemployment insurance is 5.1 percent below the level of a year ago, the largest year-year drop of the year.
  • The 1,640,000 continued claims is the lowest level since July 28, 1973, when it was 1,603,000.
  • The 4-week moving average of 1,653,000 continued claims is the lowest level for this average since August 11, 1973, when it was 1,627,750.

Data Source: Department of Labor 

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

This is just the kind of report Republicans can gloat about as they head into election day: further evidence that the country’s job engine is doing just fine, thank you very much!

That conclusion can be drawn from the data on continued claims for unemployment insurance which continues its decline suggesting jobs are available for those who on the unemployment insurance rolls. It fits perfectly with forecasts that the Employment Situation Report to be released Friday will show an uptick in job creation in October after a disappointing report for September.

BLS reported 190,000 new jobs for September; the consensus is October will show 225,000. The September numbers were, of course, heavily impacted by storms.

Indeed, from mid-September to mid-October, the number of the volatile first-time claims was essentially flat while the more stable four-week moving average rose only slightly, suggesting no change in the 3.7 percent unemployment rate.

Continued claims, which more closely track jobs (as opposed to unemployment) fell sharply from mid-September to mid-October and the four-week moving also dropped.

However, polling suggests the economy writ large is not necessarily the major issue for many voters who, according to polls, put health care on the top of their list of issues which could impact their vote.

You can hear Mark Lieberman tomorrow at 8:45  am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.