The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped below expectations last week, indicating ongoing strength in the labor market despite major hiring slowdowns. However, it’s possible that the figure has been skewed by the Thanksgiving’s Day holiday last Thursday. Claims are now at the lowest level in 7 months, falling to 203,000 for the week ended November 30 according to the Labor Department. Claims were forecast to reach 215,000.
- Initial claims dropped 10,000 to 203,000 for the week ended November 30 vs. 215,000 expected.
- The less-volatile monthly average dropped 2,000 to 217,750 last week.
- Claims data tends to be skewed by holidays like last week’s Thanksgiving Day, and analysts will be keeping a close eye on next week’s figures for confirmation.
Claims are near record lows despite the ongoing economic slowdown and the reduced momentum in hiring. The four-week average of claims dropped 2,000 to 217,750 last week. The number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid jumped 51,000 to 1.69 million for the week ended November 23, and the monthly average of these claims remained flat at 1.68 million.
While layoffs appear to be low and stable, hiring has slowed considerably. Job growth averaged at 167,000 new jobs per month throughout 2019 compared to 223,000 per month the year before. The US/China trade war, now in its 17th month, has played a major role in the slowdown, with companies reluctant to hire amid uncertain business conditions. Many industries, such as manufacturing, have suffered reduced revenue due to the conflict, also impacting hiring.
US initial jobless claims fell more than expected last week. A clear and significant turn in jobless claims has preceded a #recession in most instances. We can not convincingly say this has happened, yet... pic.twitter.com/b6zaMkbTnW
— jeroen blokland (@jsblokland) November 27, 2019
The release of a downbeat private payrolls report on Wednesday showed a big miss in payroll growth in the private sector, with just 67,000 new jobs vs. 150,000 expected. The results caused Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi to comment that “the job market is losing its shine,” adding that “Manufacturers, commodity producers, and retailers are shedding jobs. Job openings are declining, and if job growth slows any further unemployment will increase.”
The nonfarm payrolls report due for release on Friday is anticipated to show job growth of 180,000 in November, including the return of 46,000 General Motors workers from a strike which has now been resolved. Job growth has managed to outpace growth in the working age population with over 100,000 jobs created per month, and the employment rate is expected to remain at 3.6% in the upcoming report.
Gold prices have remained relatively unchanged following the news, losing some upward momentum seen earlier in the day’s session. Spot gold last traded at $1,477.32/oz, up 0.23% with a high of $1,478.56/oz and a low of $1,473.17/oz. Some of the selling pressure from the upbeat UIS job market news is potentially being offset by lukewarm GDP and manufacturing reports released yesterday in the Eurozone.