Labor Department: Big Drop in Weekly Jobless Claims Amid Retooling Trends

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Weekly jobless claims data have been released by the U.S. Labor Department. Last week was a very big surprise as the preliminary figure rose to 360,000 when it was expected to fall. That figure was likely distorted by the prior week’s July 4 holiday, and there was an auto sector retooling that nudged that number higher. This report is another volatile one, as retooling from factories is taking place.

This week’s report showed that jobless claims were down a sharp 24,000 to 340,000. This weekly report also revised the prior week figure to 358,000 from 360,000, and we would point out that claims are usually revised up rather than down.

Bloomberg was calling for a drop to 344,000, and Dow Jones was calling for 340,000. Two more metrics are important each week as well:

  • The four-week average fell by 5,250 to 346,000 in the past week.
  • Continuing claims, the army of the unemployed (with a one-week lag), rose by 91,000 to 3,114,000.

With all the latest Fed speak from Ben Bernanke and other Fed presidents, we were just not that interested going into the weekly jobless claims report. That is particularly the case given how last week’s big surprise gains were likely due to seasonal issues that are supposed to be smoothed out.