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First Cut: Initial jobless claims rise slightly in September 21 week

New filings for jobless benefits were up a scant 3,000 in the week ended September 21 to 213,000 after a revised 210,000 in the prior week (previously 208,000). As yet there is no hint in the data of impacts from the nationwide UAW strike at GM. These are likely to show up beginning in the September 28 week. For now, the underlying pace of claims is fairly steady and continues near historic lows. The four-week moving average declined only 750 to 212,000.

The Labor Department reported no special factors and no states estimated claims in the week.

Data on continuing claims in the September 14 week fell 15,000 to 1.650 million. The four-week moving average was down 12,750 to 1.666 million. The level of the rolls of those receiving benefits continues to vary week-to-week, but so far with no sign of sustained deterioration in labor market conditions.

In fact, the insured rate of unemployment eked out a one-tenth decline to 1.1% in the September 14 week, its lowest on record and the first change from the 1.2% that held nearly 17 months in a row. I would expect the rate to tick up again next week, but it is evidence of just how few workers are claiming benefits in a strong labor market.

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