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First Cut: Initial jobless claims remained just above the 200,000-mark for a second week

Whatever devastation Hurricane Dorian wrecked elsewhere, it had minimal impact for the US jobless claims data, if any.

Claims were down 2,000 in the September 14 week after a revised 206,000 in the prior week (previously 204,000). The four-week moving average was little changed at 212,250 after 213,000 in the September 7 week. The Labor Department cited no special factors and no states estimated claims.

Levels of workers filing for benefits remain low. That may change in the next week or two as businesses may implement layoffs if the nationwide UAW strike continues any amount of time. Many workers on strike aren’t covered by claims benefits, but businesses who contract for auto parts and production will be affected. The data may be noisy for a few weeks, but the underlying story remains one of little slack in the labor market.

Continuing claims were down 13,000 to 1.661 million in the September 7 week, a change that is well within normal week-to-week variation. The level is the lowest since 1.666 million in the June 8 week. If there was some slowing in hiring over the summer months, it looks like workers are again moving off the unemployment rolls. The unadjusted unemployment rate was at 1.0% for a second week. The insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.2% where it has been since early May 2018.

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