Initial jobless claims in the week ended December 22 were basically unchanged at 216,000 from the revised 217,000 in the prior week (previously 214,000). The seasonal adjustment factors accounted for the unadjusted rise to 285,180 from 255,195. Layoffs typically start to rise at year-end as business gear down over the holiday period and/or layoff workers to cut costs before the new year. However, the underlying trend remains quite low by historical standards and the data was on market expectations. Despite some noise, the labor market remains tight.
Claims were estimated for California, Kansas, Texas, and Virginia. Estimates are usually fairly accurate and should not be greatly revised in the coming week. The holiday period often sees estimates, and the timing in 2018 limits the workweek length. The Labor Department cited no special factors.
Continuing claims in the December 15 week were down 4,000 to 1.701 million from 1.705 million in the prior week. Unadjusted, the level was up 34,598 to 1.757 million. The rolls are slightly higher after the wildfires in California but should ease lower in the coming weeks.
The insured rate of unemployment held steady at 1.2% in the December 15 week.
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