Washington, D.C., USA: The number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time (Initial claims) during the week ended June 9, was a seasonally adjusted 218,000 the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday in it’s Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report. The Labor Department said claims for Maine and Hawaii were estimated last week.
Economists consensus had forecast claims rising to 224,000 in the latest week.
The drop of 4000 from the previous week points to a rapidly tightening labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 218,000 for the week ended June 9, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims data for the prior week was unrevised.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, viewed as a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 1,250 to 224,250 last week.
The labor market is considered to be close to or at full employment, with the jobless rate at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent. The unemployment rate has dropped by three-tenths of a percentage point this year. It is near the Federal Reserve’s forecast of 3.6 percent by the end of this year.
The U.S. central bank on Wednesday raised interest rates for a second time this year and projected two more rate hikes in the second half of 2018. It said the labor market “continued to strengthen” and that job gains have been “strong.”
Layoffs have remained very low amid signs of growing worker shortages across all sectors of the economy. There were a record 6.7 million job openings in April. The number of unemployed people per vacancy slipped to 0.9 from 1.0 in March, indicating that most people looking for a job are likely to find one.
The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid declined 49,000 to 1.70 million in the week ended June 2, the lowest level since December 1973. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims decreased 3,750 to 1.73 million, also the lowest level since December 1973.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.47% and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.40% were set to open slightly higher in Thursday trades. The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.99% fell slightly to 2.95%.
Why Markets Care About Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims – also called Jobless Claims or Initial Claims – measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time during the past week.
Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims is the nation’s earliest economic data. The market impact fluctuates from week to week – there tends to be more focus on the release when traders need to diagnose recent developments, or when the reading is at extremes.
The usual effect is that if ‘Actual’ is less than ‘Forecast’, it is good for the dollar and vice versa.
Markets care because although it’s generally viewed as a lagging indicator, the number of unemployed people is an important signal of overall economic health since consumer spending is highly correlated with labor-market conditions. Unemployment is also a major consideration for those steering the country’s monetary policy.
An initial claim is a claim filed by an unemployed individual after a separation from an employer. The claimant requests a determination of basic eligibility for the UI program. When an initial claim is filed with a state, certain programmatic activities take place and these result in activity counts including the count of initial claims. The count of U.S. initial claims for unemployment insurance is a leading economic indicator because it is an indication of emerging labor market conditions in the country. However, these are weekly administrative data which are difficult to seasonally adjust, making the series subject to some volatility.
Continued Weeks Claimed
A person who has already filed an initial claim and who has experienced a week of unemployment then files a continued claim to claim benefits for that week of unemployment. Continued claims are also referred to as insured unemployment. The count of U.S. continued weeks claimed is also a good indicator of labor market conditions.
Continued claims reflect the current number of insured unemployed workers filing for UI benefits in the nation. While continued claims are not a leading indicator (they roughly coincide with economic cycles at their peaks and lag at cycle troughs), they provide confirming evidence of the direction of the U.S. economy
Seasonal Adjustments and Annual Revisions
Over the course of a year, the weekly changes in the levels of initial claims and continued claims undergo regularly occurring fluctuations. These fluctuations may result from seasonal changes in weather, major holidays, the opening and closing of schools, or other similar events. Because these seasonal events follow a more or less regular pattern each year, their influence on the level of a series can be tempered by adjusting for regular seasonal variation. These adjustments make trend and cycle developments easier to spot. At the beginning of each calendar year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) with a set of seasonal factors to apply to the unadjusted data during that year. Concurrent with the implementation and release of the new seasonal factors, ETA incorporates revisions to the UI claims historical series caused by updates to the unadjusted data.