The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits rose to a five-month high last week. However, multiple states were estimated due to the Veteran’s Day holiday on Monday, which may have skewed the results. The Labor Department issued a report on Thursday indicating that claims for benefits rose 14,000 to 225,000 (seasonally adjusted) for the week ended November 9, the highest reading since June 22.
- Initial jobless claims rose 14,000 to 225,000 vs. 215,000 expected for the week ended November 9.
- The four-week average, which irons out volatility, rose a mere 1,750 to 217,000.
- The sudden rise in claims may be due to inaccuracies stemming from multiple states being estimated for this week’s report, a result of a holiday on Monday.
Jobless claims came in 10,000 higher than expected last week, although this may not indicate a major change in labor market conditions or layoffs. Claims for California, Hawaii, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and Virginia were estimated last week. The four-week average, a less volatile metric of layoffs, paints a more moderate picture with a rise of 1,750 claims bringing the average to 217,000.
The number of Americans continuing to receive benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 10,000 to 1.68 million for the week ended November 2, and the four-week average of these claims remained flat at 1.69 million. The rise in these continuing claims in prior weeks was likely impacted by a 40-day strike at General Motors, which caused temporary layoffs at auto parts suppliers. The recent drop in continuing claims may be due to the strike’s conclusion.
— Mike Richardson (@RFIMike) November 14, 2019
Despite the hiring slowdown from the rapid acceleration seen last year, layoffs remain low and the labor market appears to be in good health. With unemployment at the lowest rate in nearly 50 years, consumer spending has benefited, which in turn has spilled out into the broader economy. Healthy activity in the labor market and consumer spending has helped offset the negative impact of the ongoing trade war, low inflation, and worsening economic conditions seen worldwide.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers on Wednesday that the labor market had “benefited a wide range of individuals and communities.” He also indicated that the rate cuts were likely to be paused for the near future, and that rate hikes were not on the cards any time soon.
Gold prices remained relatively unchanged following the news, rising slightly within a tight range. Spot gold last traded at $1,465.78/oz with a high of $1,470.30/oz and a low of $1,461.22/oz. Gold may also be seeing slight upward momentum following the release of mixed data that indicates a short-term gain in producer prices, but low inflation overall.