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U.S. weekly jobless claims rise again, but labor market recovery gaining steam

Economic IndicatorsApr 08, 2021 12:40PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People line up outside Kentucky Career Center in Frankfort 2/2

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the increase likely understated the rapidly improving labor market conditions as more parts of the economy reopen and fiscal stimulus kicks in.

The second straight weekly increase in claims reported by the Labor Department on Thursday was at odds with reports this month showing the economy created 916,000 jobs in March, the most in seven months, and job openings increased to a two-year high in February. Households have also been upbeat in their assessment of the labor market.

"Our belief is that continued moves to reopen the economy will result in a solid further advance in payrolls in the April jobs report and that the claims data are likely not capturing the pace of improvement in the labor market," said Conrad DeQuadros, senior economic advisor at Brean Capital in New York.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 744,000 for the week ended April 3 compared to 728,000 in the prior week. Data for the prior week was revised to show 9,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 680,000 applications for the latest week. Some speculated that spring break-related school closings, the Easter holiday and churn in some industries were behind the surprise rise.

Others believed the unprecedented surge in claims in March 2020, when mandatory closures of non-essential businesses were enforced across many states to slow the first wave of COVID-19 infections, was making it difficult to adjust the data for seasonal fluctuations.

"We suspect that the seasonal adjustment process is the main culprit behind the confounding volatility in claims data in recent weeks as the economy passed the one-year anniversary of the lockdowns from last spring," said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays (LON:BARC) in New York.

Even so, unadjusted claims rose 18,172 to 740,787 last week.

Some economists also believed the expansion of benefits, including a government-funded $300 weekly subsidy and program for the self-employed, gig workers and others who do not qualify for the regular state unemployment insurance programs, was contributing to keeping claims high.

The weekly subsidy and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program will run through Sept. 6. Fraud, multiple filings and backlogs have dogged the system. Claims have dropped from a record 6.149 million in early April of 2020, but remain more than double their pre-pandemic level. In a healthy labor market, claims are normally in a range of 200,000 to 250,000.

Including the PUA program, 892,539 people filed claims last week, remaining below one million for a third straight week.

The increase in applications was led by California and New York. There were big drops in Alabama and Georgia, as well as Ohio, which has been beset by fraudulent applications.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading largely higher, with the S&P 500 index hitting a record high. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury prices rose.

COMPANIES HIRING

The labor market stumbled in December but has regained its footing thanks to the White House's massive $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package and an acceleration in the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations, which are allowing more services businesses to resume operations.

In the minutes of the Federal Reserve's March 16-17 policy meeting released on Wednesday, U.S. central bank officials acknowledged the improvement in labor market conditions and "expected strong job gains to continue over coming months and into the medium term."

Several Fed officials suggested the latest relief package "could hasten the recovery, which could help limit longer-term damage in labor markets caused by the pandemic."

Anecdotal evidence suggests companies are recalling workers laid off during the pandemic and hiring new employees. An Institute for Supply Management survey on Monday showed services businesses reporting they "have recalled everyone put on waivers and made new hires" and had "additional employees added to service the needs of new customers at new locations."

Still, the labor market recovery has a long way to go. Employment is 8.4 million jobs below its peak in February 2020.

The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid decreased 16,000 to 3.734 million in the week ended March 27. That was down from 23.1 million at the height of the crisis.

The 12th straight weekly decline in the so-called continuing claims in likely due to people finding work and exhausting their eligibility for benefits, limited to 26 weeks in most states. About 5.634 million people were on extended benefits during the week ended March 20, up 117,108 from the prior week.

Another 786,962 were on a state program for those who have exhausted their initial six months of aid, down 230,780 from the week before. There were 18.2 million receiving benefits under all programs during the week ended March 20.

"This points to unemployment insurance remaining a substantial source of household income at this time," said Sarah House, a senior economist at Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) in Charlotte, North Carolina.

U.S. weekly jobless claims rise again, but labor market recovery gaining steam
 

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Comments (7)
Jason Kushmaul
Jason Kushmaul 4 hours ago
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𝚌𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘂𝗿𝗹 𝘁𝗼 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝘂𝘁: 𝗺𝗼𝗽𝗲𝘁𝗷𝗮.𝗰𝗳. 𝚒𝘁 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮 𝗿𝗼𝗮𝗱𝗺𝗮𝗽 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗲𝗹𝗹𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗲𝘅𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝘄𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗴𝗼 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼, 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗸𝘀. 𝚒𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗮 𝗺𝗮𝗽 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁, 𝚒 𝗯𝗲𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗼𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆. 𝚑𝗲𝗿𝗲'𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗿𝗮𝘇𝘆 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁. 𝚍𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗼, 𝚒 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗲𝘅𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀. 𝚒'𝗺 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗼𝗮𝗱𝗺𝗮𝗽 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂'𝗹𝗹 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲.
Joshua Coste
Joshua Coste 5 hours ago
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𝚒𝗍'𝗌 𝗋𝖾𝖺𝗅𝗅𝗒 𝗇𝗈𝗍 𝖿𝖺𝗂𝗋 𝗍𝗈 𝗆𝖺𝗄𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗍 𝗆𝗎𝖼𝗁 𝗆𝗈𝗇𝖾𝗒.𝘀𝗈 𝚒 𝗌𝗂𝗀𝗇𝖾𝖽 𝗎𝗉 𝗐𝗂𝗍𝗁 𝗍𝗁𝗂𝗌 𝗆𝗈𝗇𝖾𝗒 𝗌𝗒𝗌𝗍𝖾𝗆 𝖺 𝖿𝖾𝗐 𝗐𝖾𝖾𝗄𝗌 𝖺𝗀𝗈 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝖾𝗏𝖾𝗋 𝗌𝗂𝗇𝖼𝖾. 𝘀𝗈𝗆𝖾𝗁𝗈𝗐 𝚒 𝗁𝖺𝗏𝖾 𝖺𝖼𝖼𝗎𝗆𝗎𝗅𝖺𝗍𝖾𝖽 𝗈𝗏𝖾𝗋 $ 100,000 𝗂𝗇 𝗉𝗋𝗈𝖿𝗂𝗍. 𝚒 𝗌𝖺𝗒 "𝗌𝗈𝗆𝖾𝗁𝗈𝗐" 𝖻𝖾𝖼𝖺𝗎𝗌𝖾 𝚒'𝗆 𝗇𝗈𝗍 𝗊𝗎𝗂𝗍𝖾 𝗌𝗎𝗋𝖾 𝗁𝗈𝗐 𝗍𝗁𝗂𝗌 𝗐𝗈𝗋𝗄𝗌. 𝚊𝗅𝗅 𝚒 𝗄𝗇𝗈𝗐 𝗂𝗌 𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗍 𝗆𝗒 𝖻𝖺𝗇𝗄 𝖺𝖼𝖼𝗈𝗎𝗇𝗍 𝖼𝗈𝗇𝗍𝗂𝗇𝗎𝖾𝗌 𝗍𝗈 𝗀𝗋𝗈𝗐 𝖺𝗇𝖽 𝚒 𝗁𝖺𝗋𝖽𝗅𝗒 𝗁𝖺𝗏𝖾 𝖺𝗇𝗒 𝗐𝗈𝗋𝗄 𝗍𝗈 𝖽𝗈 𝘁𝗁𝖾 𝗌𝗒𝗌𝗍𝖾𝗆 𝖼𝗈𝗇𝗍𝗂𝗇𝗎𝖾𝗌 𝗍𝗈 𝖺𝖼𝖼𝗎𝗆𝗎𝗅𝖺𝗍𝖾 𝗁𝖺𝗋𝖽 𝖼𝖺𝗌𝗁. 𝘁𝗋𝗒 𝗂𝗍 𝗒𝗈𝗎𝗋𝗌𝖾𝗅𝖿: 𝘃𝘂𝗿𝗾𝗼𝗽𝗹.𝗴𝗾
Casino Crypt
CasinoCrypt Apr 08, 2021 11:44AM ET
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No connection between Dow and Fundamentals. In a casino you hope to win . The Dow is based on hope that Fed will keep to its word and back stop stock market. Capitalism is actually in a process of dy_ing at the moment as economies are now dependent on injected money. The weak are never allowed to fail.
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Apr 08, 2021 9:48AM ET
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Even if u made 15usd hr, u make more with unemployment benefits. Why would u work for 15 or less if u can make more not working?
danny Levine
danny Levine Apr 08, 2021 9:31AM ET
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lol can't cover up forever
Jose Soberanes
Jose Soberanes Apr 08, 2021 9:09AM ET
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Unexpected? This incoherent administarion has no clue how to put American jobs first!
Me comment
Me comment Apr 08, 2021 9:09AM ET
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Still better than trumps last year.
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Apr 08, 2021 8:54AM ET
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Why is Rueters keep talking about a recovery when unemployment claims are four times what they normally are?
Hunt Richardson
Hunt Richardson Apr 08, 2021 8:54AM ET
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they are in recovery not recovered yet
Me comment
Me comment Apr 08, 2021 8:54AM ET
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cause they are 5 times less than under trump.
Adrian White
Adrian White Apr 08, 2021 8:54AM ET
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Because "recovery" refers to the process of improving compared to previous numbers. They're not saying "fully recovered".
 
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