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First Cut: Initial jobless claims higher than expected in April 20 week due to seasonal adjustment factors

Initial jobless claims in the April 20 week rose 37,000 to 230,000 after 193,000 (previously 192,000) in the prior week. Seasonal adjustment factors had anticipated a decline in claims whereas unadjusted claims rose 14,964 to 211,361. The four-week moving average was up 4,500 to 206,000. The bottom line is that the timing of the Passover/Easter weekend was late in 2019 compared to 2018 and probably contributed to some mismatch. The noise will likely quickly pass through the data and the four-week average is a more accurate representation of present conditions.

The Labor Department reported no special factors and no states estimated claims levels.

Continuing claims in the April 13 week were virtually unchanged, up 1,000 to 1.655 million and in line with near-term lows seen in October 2018. The insured rate of unemployment was at 1.2% where it has been for nearly a year. Unrounded, the rate was 1.152% unchanged from the prior week and still at record lows.

The labor market remains taut and will little indication that underlying conditions have budged in recent weeks.

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