U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Continue To Edge Lower

A report released by the Labor Department on Thursday unexpectedly showed another modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 10th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slipped to 213,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 218,000.

The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 226,000 from the 222,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Jobless claims edged lower for the fifth consecutive week, falling to their lowest level since hitting 202,000 in the week ended May 28, 2022.

The report also showed the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to a three-month low of 224,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 232,000.

“While overall economic activity is expected to slow, leading to a mild recession in H1 2023, labor markets for now remain quite tight,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

“We expect employers to slow the pace of hiring before conducting any major layoffs and don’t see any actual aggregate job losses until mid-2023,” she added. “As a result, claims are likely to remain relatively low, at least in the near term.”

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, inched up by 2,000 to 1.403 million in the week ended September 3rd.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims still dipped 1,413,250, a decrease of 7,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,421,000.

“As with initial claims, we expect continued claims to remain relatively low until labor market conditions ease more significantly in 2023,” Vanden Houten said.

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