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U.S. Jobless Claims Tick Upward, Exceeding Expectations

Bruno T
Latest News
February 29 2024 4:02AM

In the latest labor market update, initial jobless claims in the United States for the week ending February 24 saw an increase, climbing by 13,000 to reach 215,000. This rise surpassed both the previous week’s figure of 202,000 (which was revised from an initial 201,000) and the consensus estimate of 209,000, signaling a slight acceleration in jobless claims.

Despite the weekly increase, the four-week moving average, which smooths out some of the volatility in the weekly numbers, showed a modest decline. The average dropped by 3,000 to 212,500 from the revised prior average of 215,000, indicating a somewhat stable labor market condition over the month.

Continuing claims, which represent the number of people already receiving unemployment benefits, also saw a rise. The figure reached 1.905 million, exceeding the expected 1.874 million and moving up from the previous week’s revised figure of 1.860 million. This uptick suggests that some individuals are staying on unemployment benefits for longer periods.

The insured unemployment rate, which measures the proportion of the labor force receiving unemployment benefits, experienced a slight increase. For the week ending February 10, the rate edged up to 1.3% from the previous week’s unrevised rate of 1.2%. This slight rise reflects a marginal increase in the number of people claiming unemployment insurance relative to the overall labor force.

On an unadjusted basis, the total number of actual initial claims under state programs was 193,988 for the week ending February 24. This figure represents a decrease of 5,349 from the previous week, despite seasonal factors anticipating a more significant decrease of 16,965. This discrepancy highlights the unpredictable nature of jobless claims and the challenges in accurately forecasting weekly changes.

The Department of Labor’s latest report underscores the dynamic nature of the U.S. labor market, with slight fluctuations in jobless claims and continuing claims suggesting ongoing adjustments within the economy. As these labor market indicators continue to evolve, they will be closely watched for insights into the overall health of the U.S. employment landscape and its implications for future economic policy decisions.