Weekly initial claims are at a fourteen-week high

Initial claims for regular state unemployment insurance jumped by 17,000 for the week ending Nov. 19.The tenth, coming in at 240,000. The previous week’s record of 223,000 was revised up from the initial estimate of 222,000. The latest result is the highest since August 13The tenth (See the first chart). The four-week average of weekly initial claims rose to 226,750, up 5,500 for the week and the highest since Sept. 3.Research and development (See the first chart).

Despite the uptick, the level of weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance is still very low by historical comparison. When measured as a percentage of nonfarm payrolls, claims came in at 0.140 percent for the month of October, up from 0.136 in September and above the record low of 0.117 in March (see chart two).

Overall, the data continues to point to a tight labor market. However, continued high rates of price hikes, an intense Fed tightening cycle, and the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine still pose risks to the economic outlook. Moreover, job cut announcements have started to increase recently, sparking concern about future working conditions (see chart three).

The number of ongoing claims for state unemployment programs was 1.230 million for the week ending November 5thThe tenth, a decrease of 33,741 from the previous week (see chart four). Continuing state claims have increased recently but have remained confined to the 1.2 million to 1.5 million range since April (see chart four).

The latest results for combined federal and private programs put the total number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs at 1.256 million for the week ended November 5.The tenthan increase of 50,474 from the previous week.

While the overall low level of initial claims indicates the labor market remains tight, the rise in job cut announcements is a cause for concern. A tight labor market is an important component of the economy, providing support for consumer spending. However, ever-rising high price rates are already affecting consumers’ attitudes, and if consumers lose confidence in the labor market, they may significantly reduce spending. The outlook remains highly uncertain.

Robert Hughes

Bob Hughes

Robert Hughes joined AIER in 2013 after more than 25 years in financial and economic markets research on Wall Street. Bob was previously Head of Global Equity Strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, where he developed an equity investment strategy that combined top-down macro analysis with bullish fundamentals.

Prior to BBH, Bob was chief equity analyst at State Street Global Markets, chief economic analyst at Prudential Equity Group and chief economist and financial markets analyst at Citicorp Investment Services. Bob holds an MA in Economics from Fordham University and a BA in Business Administration from Lehigh University.

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