Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall, Trending Lower, But Holiday Leads to More Estimates
Initial Jobless Claims
Fewer Americans than forecast filed claims for unemployment insurance last week as state offices rushed to tally the data in a holiday-shortened period.
Applications for jobless benefits decreased 12,000 to 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22. Economists forecast 360,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Claims in 19 states and
territories were estimated because government office closures on
Dec. 24 prevented a complete count.
The level of claims indicates companies are seeing enough demand to maintain headcounts, a necessary development before hiring picks up. To help spur demand, thereby stimulating faster job growth, the Federal Reserve said this month it plans to keep monetary policy accommodative. (No surprise there.)
Estimates for first-time claims ranged from 350,000 to 375,000 in the Bloomberg survey of 41 economists. The prior week’s applications were revised to 362,000 from an initially reported 361,000.
The federal holiday on Dec. 24 prompted many state offices to close, making it more difficult to completely tally the data in time, the Labor Department spokesman said. Fourteen states and territories provided their own estimates, which are usually “fairly accurate,” the spokesman said. The Labor department estimated data for the five states that didn’t provide any figures, he said.
The four-week moving average of claims, a less-volatile measure, dropped to 356,750, the lowest since March 2008.
Let me repeat that because it is significant! The four-week moving average of jobless claims, a less-volatile measure, dropped to 356,750, the lowest level since March 2008.
Assistant State Treasurer
Chief Investment Officer
State of Louisiana
Department of the Treasury