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US Weekly Unemployment Claims Rise, Surpassing Market Forecasts

By:
James Hyerczyk
Updated: Dec 28, 2023, 16:14 UTC

Unexpected rise in unemployment claims indicates a shifting job market, despite a stable four-week average and mixed state trends.

Weekly Initial Claims

Highlights

  • Seasonal claims rise to 218,000, exceeding forecasts
  • Four-week average dips slightly despite weekly rise
  • Mixed state data suggest cautious bearish outlook

Uptick in Initial Unemployment Claims

The recent unemployment data reveals a notable increase in initial claims, marking a shift in the job market’s trajectory. For the week ending December 23, seasonally adjusted initial claims rose to 218,000, up by 12,000 from the prior week’s revised level. This uptick exceeded market expectations, which were set at 211,000. The previous week’s level saw a minor revision, increasing by 1,000 to 206,000.

Four-Week Moving Average and Unemployment Rates

Despite the rise in weekly claims, the four-week moving average, a more stable measure, showed a marginal decrease to 212,000, down by 250 from the revised average of the previous week. The insured unemployment rate edged up to 1.3% for the week ending December 16, marking a slight increase from the revised rate of the previous week. Concurrently, the number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the same week reached 1,875,000, an increase of 14,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Unadjusted Data and Year-over-Year Comparison

Shifting to unadjusted data, the week ending December 23 saw 272,610 initial claims, a 13.1% rise from the previous week. This increment was notably higher than the anticipated seasonal increase. Comparatively, the unadjusted insured unemployment rate remained steady at 1.2%. The total volume of insured unemployment in state programs showed a slight decline, falling by 9,236 to 1,826,178. In a year-over-year analysis, there was a moderate increase in the total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits, totaling 1,863,707 for the week ending December 9, 2023.

The states with the highest insured unemployment rates included New Jersey, Alaska, and California, each reflecting varying economic pressures. Notably, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Michigan experienced the largest increases in initial claims. Conversely, California and Georgia saw significant decreases.

Given these mixed signals, the short-term outlook remains cautiously bearish. The rise in initial claims suggests potential softening in the labor market, although the overall impact is yet to be fully ascertained. Investors and traders should closely monitor upcoming data releases for clearer indications of labor market trends and their potential influence on broader economic indicators.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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