The increase of 8,000 in initial jobless claims in the February 23 to 225,000 after the revised 217,000 in the prior week (previously 216,000) is probably no more than a bit of noise associated with a seasonal adjustment factors and perhaps some weather-related layoffs from a winter storm. The underlying pace of new filings for benefits continues to reflect an unwinding of the impacts in late January from the partial government shutdown and a bout of bitter cold weather. The four-week moving average notched down to 229,000 in the February 23 week from the near-term peak of 236,000 in the prior week.
No states estimated claims in the week and the Labor Department cited no special factors.
Continuing claims were up 79,000 to 1.805 million in the February 16 week as workers who filed for benefits after government shutdown related layoffs lingered for a week. Many of these will move off the rolls in the next week or two’s data as paychecks start to arrive for government workers and contractors will be paid and work can restart.
The insured rate of unemployment edged up a tenth to 1.3% in the February 16 week. The rise is insignificant and does not indicate any deterioration in the labor market.
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