The U.S. Labor Department may be getting a new chief soon, but the weekly jobless claims report and other reports are still coming out. This past week, weekly claims were up by 4,000 to 371,000, from a revised 367,000 that was reported originally as 372,000. In short, call it unchanged, by and large.
Dow Jones was calling for the weekly claims to be about 363,000 and Bloomberg had a consensus target of 362,000. With the prior week’s report being revised downward rather than the usual higher revision each week, we would consider this somewhat of a wash, even though the headline looks worse than expected.
The Labor Department also reported that the army of unemployed, those continuing claims with a one-week lag, fell by some 127,000 to 3,109,000. This is important because this appears to be the lowest post-recession reading for the army of unemployed, even if many of those workers may no longer be counted as in the workforce. Note that due to the holidays, some of the government offices were closed during the period, and that may have skewed the numbers as well.
Today’s headline looks bad on the surface. With this being the week after the holidays, and with some skewed data, we would largely ignore today’s headline on jobless claims.