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First Cut: Initial jobless claims back on trend in February 15 week

Initial jobless claims were up 4,000 to 210,000 in the week ended February 15 from a revised 206,000 in the prior week (previously 205,000). The level was essentially on market expectations and on trend with the four-week moving average of 209,000.  Claims remained consistent with a labor market with relatively few layoffs and businesses eager to hire available qualified workers.

 

The Labor Department cited no special factors for the report. However, the presence of the Presidents’ Day holiday on Monday, February 17 meant that claims were estimated for some states — Alabama, California, Hawaii, and Virginia. This raises the possibility of more than usual revision in the coming week, but these estimates are usually fairly close.

Continuing claims were up 25,000 to 1.726 million in the week ended February 8, and were close to the four-week moving average of 1.722 million. Swings in the numbers in recent weeks are smoothing out and show no particular momentum in either direction.

The insured rate of unemployment was 1.2% — again — in the February 8 week. With only rare exceptions, the string of 1.2% readings seems determined to reach the 2-year mark in May 2020.

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