The US labor market continues to show signs of strength amid uncertain economic conditions, with initial jobless claims dropping below expectations last week. 210,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits during the week ended October 5, below expectations of 219,000. Claims dropped 10,000 from last week which saw an upward revision of 1,000 claims according to the Labor Department.
- Initial jobless claims came in at 210,000 vs. 219,000 expected, down 10,000 positions.
- Claims for the week before were revised upward by 1,000, and claims for the week ended October 5 were estimated in Nebraska.
- The figures tentatively show ongoing strength in the labor market even as conditions worsen in other aspects of the economy.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, a more stable indicator which irons out volatility, rose 1,000 to 213,750 last week. The number of people receiving aid after an initial week of benefits rose 29,000 to 1.68 million, and the four-week average of these claims rose 2,500 to 1.67 million.
Initial claims had risen for three weeks before the 10,000 claim drop seen last week. As foreseen by GoldPrice.org, this may have been partially due to the General Motors strike which saw 50,000 workers participate. Although striking workers cannot claim benefits, a strike of that magnitude has the potential to impact workers at affiliated suppliers due to the overall effect on the General Motors supply chain.
Layoffs remain low despite a raging trade war cutting business investment and impacting manufacturing. However, hiring has slowed significantly, with 136,000 jobs created in September vs. 168,000 in August. The three-month average gain in private employment dropped from 135,000 in August to 119,000 in September, the lowest reading since July 2012. Demand for labor has cooled due to the general economic slowdown seen worldwide as well as the ongoing impact of the trade war on the US economy.
Continuing jobless claims still near a 20 year low. pic.twitter.com/MMlah9IZUp
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 3, 2019
Job growth has averaged at 161,000 per month this year compared to 223,000 in 2018, a significant drop. However, so far, job growth remains well above the 100,000 or so needed a month to keep pace with growth in the working-age population. The rate of unemployment is now near a 50-year low at just 3.5% as of September, down -0.2% from August.
Spot gold is down on the day, last trading at $1,494.67/oz, down -0.76% with a high of $1,516.64/oz and a previously-recorded low of $1,492.16/oz. Slipping below daily lows, gold is likely under pressure from the unexpectedly strong labor market data as well as reports of tame inflation pressure released at the same time.