The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits for the week ended August 10 rose by 9,000 according to the latest report from the Labor Department. Initial jobless claims are now at the highest level since June.
- Jobless claims rose 9,000 to 220,000 vs. 213,000 expected, a six-week high. Layoffs, however, remain near post-recession lows.
- The more stable monthly average of new claims rose by 1,000 to 213,750.
- Continuing claims rose by 39,000 to 1.73 million, the highest since March.
Initial jobless claims have risen above market expectations in multiple categories as the labor market continues to tighten. However, while jobless claims are used as an indicator of layoffs, the number of layoffs has reportedly remained relatively low.
New claims rose to 220,000, defying expectations of 213,000 – the four-week average of new claims, which irons out volatility, hit near that mark at 213,750, still near historic lows. Most of the new claims seem to have come from California, with only 3,000 out of 9,000 new claims coming from other areas. Continuing claims after an initial week of aid rose to the highest point since March at 1.73 million claims. The four-week average of continuing claims rose slightly to 1.69 million.
US economic expansion has slowed down, although continues to break all-time records in its 11th consecutive year. Anxiety around the escalating trade conflict with China is impacting manufacturing, business investment, and many other aspects of the US economy – the labor market is one area that continues to show ongoing strength in the face of rising headwinds.
Decent US numbers
US Retail Sales (Jul) rise 0.7%, exp 0.4%
Control group 1%
US Jobless claims rise to 220k, from 211k
US Philly Fed and Empire also beats..
About that September rate cut?
— Michael Hewson (@mhewson_CMC) August 15, 2019
Labor Market Performance
A major bump in jobless claims would be a serious red flag for the US economy, but analysts generally agree that this won’t be a cause for concern until claims hit above 230,000 and head higher. Strong labor market performance is perhaps the main counterpoint to be made against the Fed’s current take on rate cuts, which were implemented at the end of last month for the first time in ten years to mitigate recessionary pressure.
While the labor market performance would generally cause policymakers to advocate hiking rates or leaving them flat, tame inflation pressure and turbulence in the global economy will likely be enough to influence the Fed to implement further cuts this year.
Gold prices have ticked downward today, last trading down 0.29% at $1,511.48/oz with a high of $1,523.24/oz and a low of $1,509.88/oz. Strong retail sales have taken the edge off rising recessionary pressure, indicating underlying strength in the consumer-based US economy.