Weekly unemployment claims in the United States totaled 198,000, lower than expected

  • Weekly unemployment claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 198,000, down 13,000 from the previous week and below the Dow Jones estimate of 210,000.
  • Continuing claims totaled 1.734 million, up 29,000 from the previous week and higher than the FactSet estimate of 1.698 million.

Job seekers during a construction job fair at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

Alison Joyce | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, indicating that the U.S. labor market remains tight and a likely factor in persistent inflation.

Weekly jobless claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 198,000 for the period ending October 14. The Ministry of Labor reported Thursday. This represented a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week and was below the Dow Jones estimate of 210,000. This was the lowest weekly level since January 21.

Claims have been in a general slowing pattern since the summer, but some economists worry that this may change. Announced layoffs have been on the rise in recent weeks, suggesting the tide of declining claims may soon turn.

Continuing claims, which were delayed a week, totaled 1.734 million, up 29,000 from the previous week and higher than the FactSet estimate of 1.698 million.

The labor market has been a critical factor in the Fed’s deliberations on monetary policy. Officials are concerned that a still-tight labor market could put upward pressure on prices even after the central bank raised interest rates 11 times for a total of 5.25 percentage points since March 2022.

Markets were awaiting a speech later in the day from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who is expected to provide some guidance on where policymakers go from here.

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In the wake of the report, stock market futures were mixed while Treasury yields remained high.

The labor market has so far shown little effects from the United Auto Workers strike as well as other labor unrest. Claims rose briefly over the summer but have been in an overall downward pattern since early August, stabilizing in the sub-230,000 range in recent weeks.

This week’s report covers the survey week the Labor Department uses to report nonfarm payrolls.

In other economic news on Thursday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Its manufacturing index It rose 5 points in October but remains in contraction territory at -9, below expectations of -6.8. The survey measures companies reporting expansion versus contraction, so any reading below zero indicates contraction.

New orders, shipments and hiring all turned positive after being in negative territory for the month of September.

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